The KC-46A Pegasus tanker has passed a final test needed to ensure its delivery to McConnell Air Force base this fall.
Air Force officials said Friday that the tanker completed the final flight tests earlier this month at Boeing Field in Seattle. That clears the way for the first Boeing-built tanker to be delivered in October to McConnell.
“With this milestone complete, the test program has demonstrated a level of maturity that positions Boeing to deliver, and the Air Force to accept, an aircraft by the end of October 2018,” Will Roper, the Air Force service acquisition executive, said in a statement.
The recent tests involved the tanker’s remote vision system and refueling two more types of aircraft. Those results, combined with testing completed in June, made the tanker eligible for delivery, the Air Force said.
McConnell is expected to receive 18 tankers between October and April 2019. The base will eventually be home to 36 tankers.
McConnell spent $267 million on three hangars to house the tankers and several other projects, including a flight simulator and a fuselage trainer.
The tanker is a military version of Boeing’s 767 commercial plane. It can carry passengers, cargo and patients, in addition to its refueling capabilities. It will eventually replace the Air Force’s aging KC-135 Stratotanker fleet.
Tom Shine is director of news and public affairs at KMUW. Follow his @thomaspshine.