The first KC-46A Pegasus tanker is yet to be delivered to the U.S Air Force, but the multi-role aircraft has already generated plenty of international attention.
Interest in the KC-46A tanker is growing in the Middle East, Scott Day, Boeing spokesman, told Asian Defence Technology.
The company displayed a KC-46A Pegasus tanker simulator at DIMDEX 2018.
“Anyone who flies fighter jets and is looking at a refueling capacity will be interested in KC-46A,” said Day. “Japan has become the first international customer of KC-46. We are starting to have conversations about it in the Middle East.”
Boeing, which had originally planned on delivering the first KC-46 to the U.S. Air Force by the end of 2017, is likely to deliver the first tanker aircraft to the service within weeks. The Air Force, which plans to purchase 179 KC-46 aircraft to replace its KC-135 fleet, is expected to take delivery of the first 18 tankers this year. The U.S. Air Force initially plans to purchase 179 KC-46 aircraft to replace its KC-135 fleet.
The company considers the KC-46A, with its operational flexibility, as a mobility “game changer.” Besides having the capability to refuel U.S., allied and coalition military aircraft any time, on any mission, the wide-body, multi-role aircraft tanker can also carry passengers, cargo and patients.
The KC-46 is electromagnetic pulse-hardened for missions in a nuclear environment and incorporates flight-deck armour for protection against small arms. It is also equipped with chemical-biological protective systems and also has a Tactical Situational Awareness System. The aircraft can launch from a ‘ready state’ within 10 minutes and also has a threat awareness and avoidance system.
Other advantages of the tanker are its improved refuelling capability, including the simultaneous air refuelling of two fighter aircraft, superior situational awareness, and its multi-role capability.
According to the company, the KC-46, which is based on the 767 platform, also has the lowest life-cycle costs of any of its competitors in the market.
A cursory glance at the array of products and systems that Boeing is presenting at DIMDEX reveals how central the Middle East is to the company’ international strategy.
An F-15 simulator and a full-scale replica of the Insitu ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) are among the other products that the defence giant showcased at the event. The AH-64 Apache and the CH-47 Chinook helicopters are also displayed.
“It is an extremely important market for us,” said Day. “Asia and the Middle East are our two biggest international growth opportunities. We got some very important programs in the region; vertical lift and fighter programs are strong here.”
”Apache and Chinook helicopters are used extensively in the region,” added Day. “As there are many countries here that operate the C-17 military transport aircraft, we keep the program up to date. There is quite a demand for the ScanEagle as well; a lot of oil and gas companies the region are using it to monitor pipelines.”