With the successful aerial refueling of an A-10 Thunderbolt II July 15, the KC-46 Pegasus program completed the final flight tests required for a Milestone C production decision, according to an Air Force release.
The KC-46A offloaded 1,500 pounds of fuel to the A-10 as the last of six in-flight refueling demonstrations required before the program can request approval from Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Frank Kendall to proceed with production of 19 aircraft in Lots 1 and 2.
“It is great to see the KC-46 boom back in action and the program moving forward to a production decision,” said Col. John Newberry, the KC-46 system program manager.
The previous five aircraft to be refueled in the required demonstrations were the C-17 Globemaster III, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and another KC-46A as the receiving aircraft – all three demonstrations employing the flying boom refueling method – and a Navy F/A-18 Hornet and Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier II employing the probe and drogue method using both the centerline and wing pods of the KC-46A.
“Today’s flight marks the final step we needed to see on the boom fix in order to request production go-ahead,” said Brig. Gen. Duke Richardson, the Air Force program executive officer for tankers. “Our joint team’s tireless efforts are paying off, preparing us for the next step of this critical need to our warfighter.”
The Milestone C decision to begin low-rate initial production is expected in August.