By Bijan Razzaghi
The KC-46 has successfully completed tanker to tanker refueling testing. The test involved two KC-46s refueling each other. Tanker aircraft often refuel each other during flight operations in order to maintain maximum fuel capacity during long missions . The KC-46 is set to replace the aging KC-135 that has been operational since 1957. The KC-10 will also serve alongside the KC-46.
Tanker aircraft such as the KC-46 and KC-10 are vital for combat readiness of the Air Forces fleet and the ability to extend the range of allied aircraft during flight operations. The ability for strategic bombers such as the B-2 and B-1 to conduct missions from US soil is due to US Air Force’s tanker fleet.
The KC-46 is based on the successful Boeing 767 airliner. The KC-46 is expected to become operational with the US Air Force at the end of this year and is part of the Air Forces big five acquisition program.