The US Air Force’s future tanker’s first test aircraft completed its first week of testing on legendary soil Friday 23 October 2015. The KC-46 Pegasus – which first flew ‘for real’ on 25 September this year – landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California on 15 October, coming straight in from its home at Boeing Field in Seattle in the north of the country.
The plan is to have EMD-1 at Edwards for about two weeks, as Boeing and the 418th Flight Test Squadron conduct ground effects and fuel onload fatigue testing on the new tanker.
Ground effects testing will gather aerodynamic data for updating the KC-46A Pegasus simulator as well as supporting certification. Fuel onload fatigue tests will gather data to characterize the aircraft interaction typically experienced when the KC-46A is flying in receiver formation behind a current KC-135 Stratotanker or KC-10 Extender.
While the KC-46’s role is to refuel other aircraft, it too may need to be refueled from other KC-10s or KC-135s to extend its range. Fuel onload fatigue testing is the first look at the KC-46 acting in that role and the interactions between the three different tankers in an aerial refueling formation. Both the USAF’s older tankers KC-135 (92nd ARW) and KC-10 (60th AMW) will participate in the fuel onload tests.
As throughout history, Edwards AFB continues to be the premier base for flight testing the Air Force’s newest capability.
Source: US Air Force
Featured image: The KC-46 program’s first test aircraft, a Boeing 767-2C (EMD-1), touched down at Edwards for the first time 15 October 2015 with the typical photo distortion due to the heat. (Image © Ethan Wagner / US Air Force)