by Daryl Mayer
88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
1/25/2016 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) -- The
KC-46A Pegasus successfully transferred fuel through its boom to an
F-16C Fighting Falcon Jan. 24 to demonstrate aerial refueling operations
in advance of its first production decision later this spring.
The KC-46A passed 1,600 pounds of fuel to an F-16C piloted by Lt. Col.
Daniel Alix of the 416st Flight Test Squadron, 412th Test Wing out of
Edwards AFB, California, who characterized the mission as a complete
Officials said it was a big step forward for the program and for the
tanker capability that will serve as the backbone of Air Force global
operations over the coming decades.
"I'm extremely proud of the entire industry and government program team
that made today happen," said Brig. Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, the Air
Force program executive officer for tankers, Air Force Life Cycle
Management Center. "This aerial refueling marks the first of many, and
represents years of hard work beginning to pay dividends."
The tanker has a robust in-flight refueling demonstration schedule over
the coming weeks. The test with the F-16C fulfilled the requirement to
connect to a light/fast receiver. The remaining tests with the boom will
use an A-10 Thunderbolt II as the light/slow receiver and a C-17
Globemaster III as the heavy receiver.
Flight tests employing the centerline drogue system and wing aerial
refueling pods will use an F-18 Hornet as the light/fast receiver and an
AV-8B Harrier as a light/slow receiver. The KC-46A will also have to
demonstrate its receiver capability by taking fuel from a KC-10
These refueling demonstrations represent the significant remaining test
hurdles before proceeding to a Milestone C low rate initial production
decision. Program officials anticipate awarding the first production
contract shortly thereafter.
"These are exciting times for the KC-46A program," said Col. Chris
Coombs, the KC-46 system program manager, Air Force Life Cycle
Management Center. "We have had plans on paper and data from simulation
labs, but this in-flight demonstration shows we are truly making
progress on bringing this capability of the next generation of tankers
to the warfighter supporting our global missions for years to come."
Master Sgt. Lindsay Moon, a 13-year veteran boom operator, operated the boom controls passing fuel for the mission.
"This mission was a significant event towards certifying this new
tanker," said Moon, who is assigned to the 418th Flight Test Squadron
Detachment 1 in Seattle, Washington. "Controlling the boom from the Air
Refueling Operator Station is night and day different from laying on
your belly in a KC-135. The system advances being rolled into the KC-46
will give the operator great awareness."
Lt. Col. Donevan Rein, also with Detachment 1 in Seattle, Washington,
was the Air Force pilot onboard the KC-46A during the test sortie.
The Air Force contracted with Boeing in February 2011 to acquire 179
KC-46A tankers to begin recapitalizing the aging tanker fleet. The
program is currently working to meet the required assets available date,
a milestone requiring 18 KC-46A aircraft and all necessary support
equipment to be on the ramp, ready to support warfighter needs, by