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The Boeing KC-46A Pegasus is an aerial tanker and transport aircraft which is based on the Boeing 767 airliner. The KC-46 has been acquired to replace the KC-10 and some KC-135s in US Air Force service as the ultimate winner of the KC-X competition. The original winner of the competition was the Airbus A330MRTT however following a successful legal challenge, the competition was re-run on differing specifications and the KC-46 was successful. The KC-46 has experienced numerous issues during its development. This has included issues with its advanced 3D rear imaging system for refuelling aircraft which has resulted in the entire system having to be redesigned and replaced.
The USAF have so far received over 60 KC-45s which are operated by the Air Material Command, Air Education and Training Command, Air Mobility Command, Air Force Reserve Command, and the Air National Guard. Typically crewed by two pilots and a boom operator, the USAF have recently trialled flying the KC-46 with a single pilot which could become standard practice in contested airspace minimising the number of crew at risk.
A single USAF KC-46A will be appearing on static display at this year's Air Tattoo as part of our SKYTANKER theme. The aircraft will be provided by the 78th Air Refuelling Squadron which is part of the 514th Air Mobility Wing based at McGuire AFB in New Jersey. Photo Credit: Peter March