The US Air Force has accepted the first KC-46A Pegasus tanker from Boeing, after the company agreed to fix certain issues.

This is a major milestone for the next generation tanker and will allow Airmen to begin operational testing and flight training.

The US Air Force has identified, and Boeing has agreed to fix at its expense, deficiencies discovered in developmental testing of the remote vision system. One well known issue was a remote vision system in the cockpit slightly distorting the view of aircraft receiving fuel when the Sun creates glare or shadows.

The US Air Force say it has mechanisms in place to ensure Boeing meets its contractual obligations while initial operational testing and evaluation continues.

The tanker was selected by the United States Air Force as the winner in the KC-X tanker competition to replace older KC-135 Stratotankers. The first aircraft was originally to be delivered during August 2017.

21 COMMENTS

  1. I think the airbus Voyager A330 MRTT beats this, it can carry 291 passengers and 8 millitary pallets and still refuel at the same time. The Boeing can only hold 114 people max and carrys less fuel. But the Americans have masses of transport planes so they don’t really need the flexibility the voyager gives with troop transport (or PM transport) aswell.

    I do hope the RAF get the Voyager Air-tanker owners to install a central refueling boom on some RAF voyagers so then we can actually refuel the F35b in operations that need it and won’t have to rely on other nations for this.

    • The F35b uses the hose method so Voyager can already refuel them, that’s how they managed to get them here from the USA last summer. The only issue would be if we buy the F35a.

      • Poseidon currently requires a boom to refuel as does the Wedge tail. These two aircraft will be severely limited in their capability if the UK is unable to conduct air to air refuelling for them without relying on the US.

        • As does the RC-135W Rivet Joint and C17 Globemaster. The UK has a contract with US to supply refuelling services for these aircraft. Airbus have developed a boom for the A330 MRTT which the RAF are looking into.

          • @MattG

            The central boom was available at the time we took on the Voyager. Every other operator has them fitted. I have no idea what thought process lead to the RAF ones not being fitted with something that is essential in order to refuel all of our fleet…

      • Ah right, it must have been the A model that I seen using the boom, I supose the F35b has the lift fan engine in the way.

    • I talked to some officers in the USAF who said they really preferred a 737/a-320 size plane. they have over 500 large tankers in service!

    • Some officers in the USAF I spoke to said they really wanted a 737/A-320 sized platform. These are replacing the KC-135s, the 737-900 is a pretty similar size, the KC-46 is a much bigger beast. The A-330 platform would have been even larger than that. The KC-10s they have will be around quite a while longer for the very heavy fuel loads.

      According to wiki the USAF alone has over 500 large size (C-130 or larger) tankers! Thats pretty unbelievable. The USN and USMC also operate some. The A-330’s would have simply taken up too much tarmac with a fleet that large.

    • The KC46A lost to the A330 MRTT in the USAF selecrion. However, Boeing did not like the outcome and then Boeing suddenly won the contract. After all you can not have a non-US winner! Now the USAF have got an inferrior product (even by their own calculations).

      It goes to show the best is not always the winner…

      Rob N

    • not to mention there are still glaring issues that Boeing still has to fix…..

      i brought this up on a us based defense article on this, and someone tried to claim the a330mrt was to big for the usaf because it needed to operate from austere/small airfields…. to which i asked wtf was that ever gonna be necessary?? its a tanker ffs! not to mention it has what…. 8-10k mile range?

      • When you realize they’re replacing 400 KC-135s (larger 737 sized platforms) you can definitely see there is an argument to be made there.

      • Hmm… apparently whoever made that claim seems to have forgotten that the USAF operates the KC-10, based on the DC-10 airliner. The KC-10 and the KC-135 tankers do not need austere/small field performance. The KC-46 definitely does not have such performance either. This type of performance is provided by KC-130 aircraft.

        The original KC-X competition was indeed won by the A330MRT and would have entered service as the KC-45. However, when the competition was reopened, it was apparently rewritten to favor Boeing’s entry.

        • The only way it was was rewritten was to emphasize manufacturing of aircraft instead of assembly. The Airbus offering only provided for assembly of kits from Europe in Alabama with NO fabrication and manufacturing. When that reached Congress no less than 8 House and Senate delegations were to say say the least displeased.

          Had Airbus actually agreed to manufacture the aircraft in the US rather than simply sending kits from Germany. Their offering didn’t offer anything more than that in fact for the first four would have been sent directly from Germany already assembled with absolutely no jobs added in the US for the taxpayers money.

          Money spent in country is not truly spent as it inevitably will come back to the governments coffers some way or another through sales, income, inheritance, capital gains, corporate taxes, growth of the economy etc.. Money spent outside of the country is lost forever never to return to the taxpayer or the government.

  2. Voyager actually won the initial competition but Boeing used there enormous lobbying payroll to get Congress to cancel the original competition and to start again with a built in advantage to Boeing.
    Lockheed Martin and Airbus had no chance .

    End result the USAF has got a tanker they never wanted and fought hard not to have but pork barrel politics are strong in the USA .

  3. The KC-10, which now belongs to Boeing has a remote control boom system which works. I wonder what is so special about the KC-46 RVS requirement, that they had to re-invent it?
    NIH???

  4. The USAF is still going to lease a number of A330s whilst waiting for the KC46s. So in a way the Airbus tanker sort of proved it is still a good aircraft and more than adequate for the role. Trying to break in to the American market is nigh on impossible if you don’t provide a sizeable amount of manufacturing in country. A number of bidding weapon systems have tried and failed Brimestone and Meteor to name a couple, but what was the last major weapons program that was actually successful. At the moment there doesn’t seem any quid pro quo between us and the Americans they are selling us major programs such as Chinook, P8 and Wedgetail and we have nothing reciprocated – doesn’t seem fair.

    • Harrier
      USMC- Harrier bought enough that McDonnell Douglas partnered with Hawker and built them in the US. The later model UK Harriers are actually based on the American AV-8B upgrade as British Aerospace had stopped upgrades and design work and needed one quick after the Falklands War.
      Army-M777 155mm UK design built in the US for two reasons one the biggest customer and two the British Army still uses the 105mm and has no plans to place an order.
      Other than that their just really isn’t anything the UK makes that US doesn’t or didn’t have a equivalent of in domestically supported supply chains.
      Note:
      The other definition of Pork Barrel spending is delivering on what was promised to constituents and being a good representative. They elect someone who first looks out for them and their family ideology is usually a distant second. Keep your district employed, their taxes low, other than that leave them alone, and whenever some activists come to your office be elsewhere and you will be in office a LONG time. Send their jobs to a foreigner, bleed the district dry in taxation, and jump on the band wagon of every cause of the day and you will be lucky to survive Primary season. That is all you have to know about congressional politics.
      As for Fairness? Remember as my Grandma used to say “Life is unfair and when you die someone else wears your clothes.”

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