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KC-46 completes milestone by refueling fighter jet, cargo plane

The KC-46 Pegasus refuels a C-17 Globemaster III July 12, 2016. The successful mission tested the hydraulic pressure relief valves installed to correct higher-than-expected axial loads in the boom. (Courtesy photo)

A KC-46A Pegasus refuels a C-17 Globemaster III during a test flight July 12, 2016. The successful mission tested the hydraulic pressure relief valves installed to correct higher than expected axial loads in the boom. (Courtesy photo)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) -- The KC-46A Pegasus connected in flight with an F-16 Fighting Falcon and a C-17 Globemaster III July 8 and July 12, respectively, as part of a testing milestone.

These tests with the F-16 and C-17 were in support of the Milestone C requirements to rendezvous, contact and transfer fuel to several receiver aircraft types.

An initial attempt with the F-16 earlier this year was successful; however, higher than expected axial loads on the boom were detected. These loads were again present during the initial attempt with the C-17 and necessitated installation of hydraulic pressure relief valves in the boom.

The recent successful tests show the boom axial loads hardware fix, designed by Boeing engineers, is performing as expected to alleviate the loads.

"I'm encouraged by these results,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said. “The KC-46 program continues to move forward, making important progress that will get this vital capability into the hands of the warfighter.”

The final Milestone C flight test is to transfer fuel through the fixed boom to an A-10 Thunderbolt II. That test is also slated to occur in July.

"Once complete with the A-10, we will request approval from Mr. Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, to award production Lots 1 and 2, totaling 19 KC-46A aircraft," said Darlene Costello, Air Force Service Acquisition executive.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein added, "While it took some time, this week's results confirm my confidence the Boeing team will get this figured out. It's reassuring to see the program take this important step toward the production decision in August.”

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