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07:57 AM, January 27, 2016
Boeing, USAF Completes First Refueling Flight Of KC-46A Tanker Aircraft
US Air Force's KC-46A tanker

Boeing and US Air Force aircrews successfully completed the KC-46A tanker’s first refueling flight on January 24.

Following takeoff from Boeing Field in Seattle, the KC-46A flight test team completed a series of checkpoints before smoothly offloading 1,600 pounds of fuel to an F-16 fighter aircraft flying at 20,000 feet.

KC-46 tanker features Rockwell Collins’ Remote Vision System (RVS) which played a vital role in its first flight test.

“Today’s refueling flight is an important milestone for the Air Force/Boeing team because it kicks off the Milestone C aerial refueling demonstration, which is the prerequisite for the low-rate initial production decision,” said Col. Christopher Coombs, U.S. Air Force KC-46 System Program Manager. “We have a lot of work yet to do, but this is an exciting time for the airmen who are preparing to fly, maintain and support the KC-46 Pegasus for decades to come.”

Rockwell Collins RVS is a combination of 2-D and 3-D technologies in both visible and long wave infrared spectrums, providing visual information to support refueling operations. The RVS provides the ability for the air refueling operator to refuel aircraft at any time, in any weather and under any lighting conditions.

During the flight, the Air Force’s air refueling operator, “flew” the tanker’s 56-foot boom downward and waited for the F-16 to move into position before fully extending the boom into its refueling receptacle and the KC-46 then began offloading fuel to the fighter. When the fuel transfer was complete, the system automatically turned off the pumps and the operator smoothly retracted the boom.

The KC-46A that accomplished the refueling milestone shortly will begin refueling a number of other military aircraft in addition to the F-16, including a C-17, A-10, F/A-18 and AV-8B. This particular KC-46 (known as EMD-2) made its first flight in September 25, 2015.

The program’s first test aircraft (EMD-1), a 767-2C, has completed more than 260 flight test hours to date since making its first flight in December 2014. Aircraft EMD-3 and EMD-4 will make their initial flights later this year.

As part of a contract awarded in 2011 to design and develop the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation tanker aircraft, Boeing is building four test aircraft – two are currently configured as 767-2Cs and two KC-46A tankers.

Boeing’s KC-46A is a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures, as well as having the ability to carry passengers, cargo and patients. Overall, Boeing plans to build 179 KC-46 aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.

In addition to the RVS, Rockwell Collins also provides an Integrated display system featuring four 15.1-inch diagonal liquid crystal displays, a Tactical Situational Awareness System (TSAS) processor built on a Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC)-certified system, signal data concentrator network and state-of-the-art communications, navigation, surveillance, networking, and flight control systems.