The first two Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aircraft departed Everett’s Paine Field this week for McConnell Air Force Base, where the 22nd Air Refueling Wing will be the first unit to have the world’s newest air refueling tankers. McConnell, in Wichita, Kan., will receive two more tankers in the weeks ahead. Then Oklahoma’s Altus Air Force Base will receive four planes to support aircrew training.
The Air Force will soon begin evaluating the KC-46’s systems in operationally realistic scenarios, which is required before the aircraft can be used in combat. It will also continue validating the KC-46’s refueling capabilities, with aircraft including the B-2 bomber, C-5 cargo plane, and F-35 fighter. Prior testing involved the B-52 bomber, C-17 cargo plane, and F-15E and F/A-18 fighters, among others.
Since being selected as the first Main Operating Base in 2014, McConnell Airmen have been preparing to ensure their readiness to receive the Air Force’s newest aircraft. Contractors constructed a KC-46 maintenance hangar, technical training dormitories, air traffic control tower, fuselage trainer and many other facilities specifically for the Pegasus’ arrival. These projects brought $267 million to the local economy by employing Kansas workers and using local resources.