The Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker-transport aircraft made its first appearance outside of the United States during the week of the Paris Airshow.
A US Air Force (USAF) aircraft from McConnell Air Force Base (AFB) in Kansas was on static display at the event running from 17 to 23 June.
The KC-46A is set to become the backbone of the USAF's tanker fleet over the coming years, with 179 aircraft to be delivered under the KC-X procurement programme. This international debut comes about five months after the first operational aircraft was handed over to the air force on 25 January. To date, six aircraft have been delivered to McConnell AFB and five to Altus AFB in Oklahoma. Initial operational testing and evaluation (IOT&E) was launched at McConnell AFB on 4 June.
As noted by the USAF the KC-46As appearance at Paris and other future international aviation events is geared towards "increasing [the] understanding of ally and partner capabilities and proficiencies while promoting standardisation and interoperability of equipment".
The KC-46A appeared at Paris as part of a wider USAF air mobility coral that included the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules, McDonnell-Douglas KC-10A Extender, Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, and Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker.
In terms of the USAF's programme for 179 KC-46As, 52 aircraft have so far been placed under contract and eight delivered. Carreon said that Boeing is under contract to deliver 36 to the USAF by the end of this year. The first of up to four aircraft for Japan will be delivered in 2021.
The USAF plans to certify 64 receiver aircraft for the KC-46A out to late 2020/early 2021. To date, nine have been done with work now under way on the Lockheed Martin EC-130J Commando Solo. Future receiver certification includes the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey and Lockheed Martin C-5M Galaxy.
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