The KC-46 Pegasus development program completed its first flight of Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD) aircraft #1 Dec. 28.
EMD #1 is a provisioned 767-2C freighter and the critical building block for the KC-46 missionized aerial refueler. The maiden flight took off at 9:29 AM PST from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, and landed at 1:01 PM PST at Boeing Field in Seattle.
“Getting in the air is a critical step in the development of this important capability for the warfighter,” said Brig. Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, the program executive officer for tankers at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. “The team at Boeing has done a remarkable job creating an entirely new aircraft that will soon become the backbone of our ability to project power anywhere in the world.”
The 767-2C freighter is the initial step toward producing a KC-46. The aircraft will undergo additional finishing work s at the Boeing facility such as installing the refueling boom and other military specific equipment. The first flight of a KC-46 (EMD #2) is expected in the Spring of 2015.
“Today’s flight is a key step in the next generation of tankers,” said Col. Christopher Coombs, the KC-46 system program manager. “We know flight testing will lead to some discovery; today’s flight kick-starts that work. There is an aggressive schedule going forward into the Milestone C decision point for approval to start Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP), but we remain cautiously optimistic we can meet the mark.”
The Air Force contracted with Boeing in February 2011 to acquire 179 KC-46 refueling tankers to begin recapitalizing the aging tanker fleet. This flight is an early but important step toward meeting the required assets available date -- a milestone requiring 18 KC-46 aircraft and all necessary support equipment to be on the ramp, ready to support warfighter needs, by the August 2017 timeframe.