Jan 14, 2014
First KC-46A Baseline Test Aircraft Due This Month
The first of four Air Force KC-46A baseline test aircraft will complete major assembly later this month before taking off on its first scheduled test-flight later this summer.
The upcoming test flight of the 767 2C developmental aircraft, called a provision freighter, will begin an extensive testing, evaluation and certification process in the Air Force’s multi-year effort to replace its aging KC-135 and KC-10 tanker fleets
The first aircraft will go directly into the flight test program where it will start working on FAA certification test points.
The Air Force’s multi-year tanker procurement program is one of the service’s top two priorities. The average KC-135 is about 50 years old and the average KC-10 tanker is roughly 29 years old.
The KC-46A will refuel F-22s, F-15s, F-16s, F-35s, C-17 and KC 10s, among others.
The new tanker will have and improved ability to refuel aircraft via the probe and drogue while also using a boom and receptacle on a single mission. The aircraft can conduct multiple refueling missions concurrently using a drogue, or refueling mechanism on the wings, and a more standard boom and receptacle system.
The first flight of a fully-integrated, military ready KC-46A aircraft is slated for January of 2015.
The USAF Force plans to acquire 179 KC-46A tankers between 2015 and 2028. Current plans call for low rate initial production of seven aircraft in 2015, 12 aircraft in 2016 and then 15 per year between 2017 and 2027.