With 53 aircraft in service, Boeing’s KC-46 Pegasus tanker is now approved for supporting over two-thirds of the aircraft in the joint air fleet that are capable of receiving fuel in flight. All of the Air Force’s fighters, bombers and airlifters have successfully completed testing and either have been or soon will be certified for relying on Pegasus to extend their range via aerial refueling. The same is true of most of the tactical aircraft operated by the sea services. Slowly but surely, Pegasus is overcoming the obstacles that slowed its path to full operating capability. The only significant outstanding issue at this point is an under-performing Remote Vision System that enables the refueling boom to be precisely maneuvered from the cockpit. A definitive solution to that challenge will begin delivery in 2024. Boeing is under pressure to fully meet Air Force expectations for the tanker by then, because a new round of tanker competition is looming with formal release of a solicitation expected later this year. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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