On 28th December, at Everett, in the US northwest, Boeing carried out the first flight of the B767-2C, a prototype that will serve as the basis for the future US Air Force aerial refueling and strategic transport aircraft : the KC-46A. Although this first test aircraft does not yet have refuelling equipment, a total of four prototypes will be built to begin the flight test progamme.
In 2011, the US Air Force decided to replace its KC-135 Stratotankers, produced by Boeing since the late 50’s, with 179 KC-46 Pegasus’.
With this new aircraft, equipped with two Pratt & Whitney engines, the US Air Force will open its field of possibilities. Compared to the KC-135, the Pegasus has an increased 12,000 kilometre (7,450 miles) range, a 5% more fuel carrying capacity, will be able to refuel in flight by day or night, carry 18 pallets of cargo, 114 soldiers, or 54 patients. Another plus, is that it will benefit from enhanced self-protection.
The development cost of the new programme exceeds $ 7 billion. Boeing estimates the potential market for such type of aircraft at between 100 and 200 units, which they hope to export worldwide.
By summer 2017, the US Air Force is to receive 18 units, and fifteen additional KC-46’s each year until 2027. Total price of the contract: $ 52 billion.