When will the Boeing KC-46 enter service? Boeing yesterday handed over the first Boeing KC-46 Pegasus air-to-air refuelling aircraft to the United States Air Force (USAF).
However, the USAF is withholding full payment due to ongoing issues with the new aircraft. These include problems associated with refuelling the Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II, the air force’s close air support aircraft.
Nonetheless, Boeing hopes to deliver up to 36 new tankers by the end of 2019. The aircraft is based on the civilian Boeing 767 and has been in development since 2006, though an earlier project, the KC-767, paved the way before a corruption investigation brought the USAF’s proposed purchase to a halt, though not before some export orders had been taken. Japan, Colombia, Brazil and Italy acquired 11 aircraft between them.
Initial deliveries of the KC-46 will be to McConnell Air Force Base, Wichita, Kansas, home of the 22nd Air Refuelling Wing, who currently operate Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers.
Boeing’s KC-135 has been in service since 1957 and some airframes are expected to remain in service until 2040 – a continuous service for the type of an astonishing 83 years.