The KC-46A Pegasus has proven itself as the world’s most advanced multi-mission combat aerial refueling airplane, and customers are already increasing orders for the tanker.
In December 2022, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) added two additional KC-46As to its order, and in January 2023, the US Air Force signed a new $2.2bn contract for 15 new KC-46As.
In operation around the world, the KC-46A is flying hundreds of sorties every month, and has delivered more than 100 million pounds of fuel to receiver aircraft globally through its proven refueling systems. The KC-46A comes with boom and hose-and-drogue systems standard on every mission, and the KC-46A boom provides a three-times-larger receiver envelope for refuelling aircraft.
The KC-46A delivers more fuel at all ranges and from shorter runways than the KC-135 it is replacing for the U.S. Air Force and allies. It also requires less ramp space than larger commercial derivative tankers, ensuring mission reach from forward and austere airfields.
To meet the multi-mission needs of modern militaries for operational flexibility, the KC-46A has been designed for quick conversion to carry passengers, cargo, and patients. With a large cargo door and cargo rollers, the KC-46A is adaptable to rapid cargo loading and mission versatility. The KC-46A can carry 18 standardized military pallets (463L) in cargo configuration and accommodates a mixed load of passengers and cargo, making it a truly multi-role aircraft.
The KC-46A’s also serves as a connectivity hub at the tactical edge, providing data as well as fuel to the joint force. Armed with data links and primed for Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) integration, the Pegasus tanker connects multi-domain warfighters, providing tactical situational awareness and real-time information superiority. As the needs of the mission evolve, the KC-46A can efficiently integrate new capabilities and advanced technology thanks to its in-line production.
The airplane is also equipped with robust defensive and tactical situational awareness systems to help customers secure and maintain air superiority. The KC-46A can detect, avoid, defeat, and survive threats using multiple layers of protection, enabling it to operate safely in medium-threat environments.
The KC-46A is built as a tanker from day one on the production line, giving it a longer lifespan and reduced airframe corrosion than post-production modified tankers. The KC-46A is more fuel efficient and has lower operating and maintenance costs. Furthermore, fleet commonality and interoperability leverages economy of scale for the U.S. Air Force and its allies.
Ultimately, the KC-46A delivers more capability and greater value for the fleet. The Pegasus has lower acquisition, operations and sustainment costs than any existing widebody aerial refueler and represents the best value over its total lifecycle, in addition to being the most advanced multi-mission aerial refuelling aircraft in the world.