Boeing KC-46A tankers exchange fuel mid-flight for first time

By Richard Tomkins  |  Oct. 12, 2017 at 2:50 PM
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Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Two Boeing KC-46A aerial tankers for the U.S. Air Force have for the first time provided fuel for each other during a flight, offloading 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute.

The refueling demonstration by a Boeing and Air Force test team occurred during a recent four-hour flight, during which the two aircraft transferred 38,100 pounds of fuel to each other, Boeing said in a news release Wednesday.

Boeing said the successful test was a "milestone" that opens the door to additional certification and specification compliance testing.

The KC-46 has the capability to refuel military aircraft using its boom and hose and drogue systems. The boom enables the transfer of as much as 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute, The hose and drogue system can refuel smaller aircraft at a rate up to 400 gallons a minute.

Boeing said KC-46 test aircraft have had more than 1,300 contacts during refueling flights with a number of aircraft, including the F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10 and KC-10.

The KC-46 will replace the KC-135, which is currently in use. Boeing will deliver more than a dozen of the tankers to the Air Force next year.

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