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KC-46 makes first flight

written by australianaviation.com.au | September 28, 2015

K66446-1_high-resAfter a delay of eight months, Boeing’s KC-46A tanker-transport has made its first flight, taking off from Paine Field, Everett on September 25 on a four hour test flight before landing at Boeing Field, Seattle.

“This first tanker flight is a key milestone for the program and we’ll now begin free air stability tests and flight controls of the boom and wing aerial refueling pods before conducting aerial refueling tests where the KC-46 will make contact with other military aircraft down the road,” Col Christopher Coombs, US Air Force KC-46 system program manager, said in a statement.

Boeing says the the KC-46 will begin aerial refueling flights with a number of USAF receiver aircraft “before the end of the year”. “Those flights, along with the mission systems demonstrations and a recently completed ground cargo handling test, will support the planned Milestone C decision in 2016,” Boeing said in a statement.

That Milestone C decision, due between January and April 2016, would see the US Department of Defense formally approve KC-46A production.

Under a contract awarded in 2011 Boeing is building four KC-46 test aircraft – two are initially configured as 767-2Cs not fitted with their boom and pod refuelling systems and two KC-46A fully-equipped tankers. The first test aircraft for the KC-767 program, the first 767-2C, made its first flight last December, and has since completed over 150 flight hours.

The US Air Force’s ‘program of record’ requirement for the KC-46A is 179 aircraft.

KC-46 Landing BFI

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Comments (4)

  • Rob


    Wow…great work Boeing. Getting a 35+ year old designed plane to fly! Hardly groundbreaking. USAF should have got the KC30 as they selected a number of times before politics intervened. RAAF made the right decision on a tanker.

  • Dane


    It’s a pity they didn’t go with a 777 based design. The KC-767 can’t offload as much as the the KC-30 and was never really a competitive tender as the NG/EADS offer of the KC-45. Once again local job creation and politicians wanting to stay elected gets in the way of stopping real capability being acquired

  • Trash Hauler


    For once the U.S can’t boast about have the best assets!

  • Ben


    How do you have an 8 month delay in what is essentially a KC-767 which the JASDF and Italian Air Force have been flying operationally for years??

    KC30 was never going to happen, American politics would never stand for them [gasp] buying a foreign aircraft, even if it was made in the USA. Same reason the EH101 despite being superior was not selected for the presidential helicopter. They’d prefer old American design (spin it as tried and tested) than a newer, more advanced, more capable one that was foreign (spin it as loss of American jobs and untested).

    However a B772LR based design would have been far superior, possibly even to the KC30.

    Does the boomer in a KC47A actually make the flight deck or are they still banished to the boot (or trunk)?

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