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KC-46 Officially Begins Initial Operational Test and Evaluation

The Air Force?s KC-46 program has officially moved the new tanker into its initial operational test and evaluation phase, a delayed step that will certify whether the plane can handle its key missions.

?IOT&E will test the KC-46?s effectiveness, suitability, and mission capability toward accomplishing its three primary mission sets: aerial refueling, cargo/passenger operations, and aeromedical evacuation,? the service said in an Oct. 23 statement. ?The Air Force continues to test the new weapon system, while Boeing corrects identified deficiencies in parallel, as the most expeditious means of achieving full operational capability.?

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The Biggest Needs in the Mobility Fleet

Future great power competition will step up demand for aerial refueling capacity and require air cargo crews to operate in contested airspace?potentially poisoned with chemical agents. As Air Mobility Command gears up for those demands, leaders are focused on fielding and developing new aircraft and making smarter use of the aircraft they have.

AMC?s priorities over the coming years will be fielding the KC-46 Pegasus, developing requirements for the next tanker aircraft, dubbed the KC-Z, and developing better means of training and managing the force it has while building toward the force it needs. That includes more hands-on training to prepare for operations in hostile environments and employing new technologies to better understand demand for forces.

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Air Force improves new inspection plan for KC-46s, paving the way for deliveries to restart

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. ? The Air Force has decided to start accepting KC-46 tankers from Boeing again after the discovery of foreign debris halted production for the second time, the service?s top weapons buyer said Tuesday.

But before that happens, all KC-46s will now be subject to stringent inspections that will scrutinize all sealed compartments of the plane for foreign object debris, or FOD. That includes tankers already delivered to McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., and Altus Air Force Base, Okla., which will have to have their fuel tanks drained so that personnel can climb in and determine whether FOD is present.

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Boeing’s KC-46 Aerial Tanker Debuts

Boeing Co. is poised to make history as a pair of its new KC-46 Pegasus tankers take off Friday for a U.S. Air Force base in Kansas to provide overdue and much-needed replacements for Eisenhower-era aerial refuelers.

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Air Force finds new KC-46 deficiencies, jeopardizing planned delivery date

WASHINGTON ? The U.S. Air Force has added two new technical issues to the KC-46 tanker?s list of problems, potentially throwing a wrench into the projected delivery of the first tanker in October.

The service confirmed to Defense News on Sept. 17 that both deficiencies are category-1 , the most serious designation of technical problems, and revolve around the tanker?s refueling boom system.

At this point, the Air Force is unsure whether the two problems will be solved in time for KC-46 manufacturer Boeing to deliver the first tanker next month, said Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.

?Boeing and the program office are still reviewing the test data and assessing the risk and potential solutions to these deficiencies, and proceeding in parallel to aircraft delivery,? she said in a statement.

DefenseNews.com