Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., is the first guard base to receive a next-generation KC-46A Pegasus refueling tanker plane.
The plane arrived late Thursday at the 157th Air Refueling Wing for a ceremonial welcome as rock music played and fire trucks sprayed arcs of water. Pilot Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice, Air National Guard, concluded his 40-year military career in bringing the plane to his home state.
The plane, developed from a Boeing 767 passenger plane, is replacing KC-135 Stratotankers in the U.S. Air Force fleet of refueling planes. The air base will receive three KC-46As per month for four months.
The first KC-46A was delivered to the Air Force in January 2019, whose plans include the purchase of 179 of the planes by 2027.
The KC-46A is capable of refueling any fixed-wing plane, foreign or domestic made, while both planes are airborne. It can also accommodate a mix of passengers, including patients and cargo.
In March, the Airwing announced its intent to divest all of its KC-135s to prepare for the arrival of the new KC-46A tanker. One was delivered from the Pease base to the 161st Air Refueling Wing at Goldwater Air National Guard Base, Ariz., in March.
Development of the KC-46A has been slow. Contractor Boeing Co. was three years behind schedule on the program before deliveries began. Last week the company received a $55.5 million contract modification for engineering work on a redesign of the plane's boom telescope actuator.