This is the United States Air Force's (USAF) future tanker. Boeing’s KC-46 Pegasus carried out its first flight on 25 September between Everett and Seattle in the USA’s northwest. The USAF has ordered 179 units to replace their (KC-135) Stratotanker, developed in the 50's, which costs billions of dollars each year in maintenance.
With the KC-46 Pegasus, the USAF will have a latest generation tanker, equipped with avionics similar to that of the Dreamliner; and that’s not all.
Compared to the Stratotanker, the Pegasus will be less of a gas-guzzler. Equipped with just two Pratt & Whitney engines (instead of the KC-135’s four) it has an increased range of over 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometres) more, and carries 5% more fuel [212,000 lb. (96,000 kg)]. The new tanker will also have an increased payload. For example, it will be capable of conveying 18 cargo pallets, three times more than the Stratotanker.
The KC-46’s first inflight refuelling tests are planned for before the end of the year. To meet their commitments, Boeing will deliver 18 units by the summer of 2017. The cost of the programme exceeds seven billion dollars, but nevertheless, will bring Boeing seven times that in returns (52 billion dollars).