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KC-46 refuels fighter jet with hose, drogue system for first time

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- An Air Force and Boeing aircrew aboard a KC-46A Pegasus successfully refueled an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet in flight Feb. 10, marking the program’s first using the tanker’s hose and drogue system.

The flight, which took place in the skies over Washington state, lasted more than four hours and the tanker's air refueling operator transferred fuel to the F/A-18 at 20,000 feet, according to Boeing officials.

The KC-46 will refuel aircraft using both its boom, and hose and drogue systems. The boom allows the tanker to transfer up to 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute, while the plane's hose and drogue systems, located on both the plane's wing and centerline, enables the KC-46 to refuel smaller aircraft such as the F/A-18 with up to 400 gallons of fuel per minute, a Boeing news release said.

F/A-18s are flown by both the Navy and Marine Corps.

The KC-46 refueled an F-16C Fighting Falcon from Edwards Air Force Base using its air refueling boom Jan. 24.

The KC-46 is intended to replace the Air Force's aging tanker fleet, which has been refueling aircraft for more than 50 years. With more refueling capacity and enhanced capabilities, improved efficiency and increased capabilities for cargo and aeromedical evacuation, the KC-46 will provide aerial refueling support to the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, as well as coalition aircraft.

The 412th Test Wing is the lead developmental test organization for the KC-46 tanker program.