Boeing is presenting a model of its KC-46A Pegasus tanker/ transport as part of its CANSEC display (Booth 1821). The company is positioning the 767 airliner derivative as a potential candidate for Canada’s Strategic Tanker Transport Capability requirement to eventually replace the Airbus A310 (CC-150 Polaris) tanker/transports.
That requirement is still some way off, with a request for proposals nominally slated for 2021 and service entry around 2026 at the earliest. However, the exact nature of the requirement is linked to what Canada decides with regard to its Future Fighter programme, with which the tanker/transport must be compatible. If the proposed interim Super Hornet purchase goes ahead the main Future Fighter decision will be delayed, and a decision on the tanker/transport may be required earlier to avoid a gap in tanker capability caused by the RCAF’s two refuelling-configured CC-150s and four CC-130H Hercules tankers reaching the end of their service lives. Another option could be to lease tanker capacity when needed, as is already practised.
In the meantime, Boeing is advancing with its KC-46A programme for the US Air Force, having overcome technical hurdles.
The first of an expected 179 aircraft is on course for delivery to the Air Force before the end of this year to replace the elderly Boeing KC-135. The sixth and latest aircraft to fly took to the skies on 29 April. It will join the test fleet to accelerate the flight test activities, and will focus particularly on electromagnetic compatibility testing. Boeing is also converting one of its 767-2C trials aircraft to tanker configuration so that four refuelling-capable aircraft will be conducting test activities.
By the end of April the fleet had conducted more than 1,200 contacts with A-10, F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17 and KC-10 receivers.
Boeing’s latest flying addition to the fleet is the second from the low-rate initial production (LRIP) batch that covered seven aircraft.
A second LRIP batch comprised 12 aircraft, and in January a third LRIP batch of 15 was ordered, bringing contracted orders to 34.
e initial development contract, awarded in 2011, included four development aircraft. They comprised two 767-2C aircraft in basic transport configuration and two KC-46As with tanker capability. The first 767-2C ew on 28 December, 2014, and the first KC-46 on 25 September, 2015.