Boeing’s KC-46 Pegasus Can Already Refuel 22 Different Aircraft
Aerospace Manufacturing manufactures a specialized NAS9921 fastener for the KC-46 Pegasus tanker, the USAF’s next-generation military aerial refueling aircraft that is replacing an aging fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers.
The USAF has been putting the KC-46 through comprehensive testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California to certify aerial refueling between the tanker and no fewer than 22 different kinds of aircraft, including, significantly, the largest aircraft in the USAF’s inventory, the C-5M Super Galaxy.
The Super Galaxy is huge. With five sets of landing gear, 28 wheels and a load capacity of 281,001 pounds, it can carry two M1 Abrams tanks, or six AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, or 15 Humvees — you get the idea.
Photo credit BlueBarronPhoto / Shutterstock.com
Fully loaded, the C-5M Super Galaxy can fly 2,150 nautical miles, unload, and fly to a second base 500 nautical miles away. That’s without aerial refueling from the KC-46. With aerial refueling, its range will only be limited by the crew’s endurance.
Maj. Drew Bateman, a C-5M pilot and the chief of the 22nd Airlift Squadron’s standardization and evaluation command, said of the April 29 sortie, when the KC-46 and the C-5M first made contact in the skies above Edwards, “That was awesome to be a part of. You have a few pinch me moments in life and this was one of them for me.”
To refuel the Super Galaxy, boom operators rely on a series of cameras that project a 3-D image onto a screen, which the operators use to position the aircraft. Once Boeing and the USAF complete the testing phase, the next step is to obtain all operational clearances needed to pair the KC-46s and C-5M on missions.
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