Eight years after it awarded Boeing the contract to develop a next-generation aerial refueling tanker, the U.S. Air Force has begun formally accepting the KC-46A Pegasus. This is, as the Air Force stated Thursday, a major milestone for the program. However, much of the media coverage of the announcement focused on two issues that remain to be resolved from the development effort, and as a result sounded distinctly negative. For perspective, it’s worth keeping a few things in mind about Pegasus: (1) it has met its performance objectives; (2) remaining issues are limited and fixable; (3) Boeing can easily pay for any needed fixes; (4) the joint force requires new aerial refuelers fast; and (5) pilots need to begin training on the plane. All of which points to the conclusion that the KC-46A is the future of aerial refueling, at least as far as America and its allies are concerned. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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