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The first of four Air Force KC-46A baseline test aircraft will complete major assembly later this month before taking off on its first scheduled test-flight later this summer, Air Force and Boeing officials said.
Although only a developmental flight of a test aircraft, the upcoming flight marks a significant milestone in a long Air Force effort to build a new aerial tanker for its fleet.
The upcoming test flight of the 767 2C developmental aircraft, called a provision freighter, will begin an extensive testing, evaluation and certification process in the Air Force’s multi-year effort to replace its aging KC-135 and KC-10 tanker fleets, Maj. Gen. John Thompson, Program Executive Officer for Tankers, told Military.com in an interview.
“The first aircraft will go directly into the flight test program where it will start working on FAA certification test points – proving that the aircraft can fly at the altitudes it is committed to flying at, proving that it can take off and land at the distances it has committed to, and ensuring that it can go from one altitude to another altitude,” Thompson said.