Editor’s Note: We mentioned the looming deadline before, and all eyes on on the Pegasus aerial refueling tanker as it presses on through its test phase. Once Milestone C is reached, leadership at AMC (Air Mobility Command) will decide on an acceptable date to shoot for to reach Initial Operational Capability. All hopes are geared toward the KC-46 not encountering any major issues before production of the aircraft begins in earnest.

Gen Carlton Everhart says he plans to meet with his counterpart at Air Force Materiel Command to decide an achievable initial operating capability (IOC) timeline once the $6.5 billion KC-46 development effort graduates to production. That “Milestone C” decision is expected in April or May.

Everhart will announce an IOC date after weighing progress “variables” like base construction and modernisation and aircraft delivery as well as aircrew, boom operator and maintainer training. As it stands today, IOC could occur anytime from late 2017 to 2018.

The Boeing KC-46A Pegasus during a test fight. (Photo courtesy of Boeing)
The Boeing KC-46A Pegasus during a test fight. (Photo courtesy of Boeing)

“It’s going to be a realistic date out there and I want to be able to meet it,” he said at the Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida on 25 February. “Once you see that date, it’s going to be the date.”

Last week, the air force’s programme executive officer for tankers said Boeing intends to deliver the initial 18 operational tankers to the first combat-code tanker squadron and training base over six months from March to August of 2017, to achieve a contractual required-assets milestone. USAF intends to buy 15 KC-46A aircraft per year starting in fiscal year 2017.

Everhart says money is already being spent to prepare McConnell and Seymour Johnson air force bases in Kansas and North Carolina, and Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire, to accept the KC-46A. Preparations are also underway for the training site at Altus AFB in Oklahoma.

The article in its entirety at Flight Global can be viewed here.

(Featured photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)