KC-46A To Fly for the First Time Sept. 25

The Air Force will conduct the first flight of the KC-46A on Sept. 25, following a completed fuel dock test and a complete revamp of the fuel system after a contamination incident this summer, the program executive announced Sept. 15 at ASC15. The first flight of the development model of the aircraft came earlier this year, but the service has delayed the first flight because of multiple issues, including fuel contamination and issues with the electronic system. Now the service is confident it be ready by Sept. 25, and will quickly move into air refueling demonstrations in 2016, program executive officer Brig. Gen. Duke Richardson said. The service will first test refueling with an F-16 on the boom in January, and then will progress with tests on a C-17 on the boom, a fast drogue test with an F/A-18, a slow boom test with an A-10, a test with the KC-46A receiving fuel, and finally a drogue test on a slow AV-8B Harrier. The service expects to field 187 KC-46As beginning in 2017. While there have been issues with the schedule, there have not been large issues with performance, Richardson said. “We are taking longer than we want … but we are making slow and steady progress,” Richardson said. The Air Force needs to hold its requirement firm because the contract is capped with the contractor responsible for cost overruns, he said.