Source : Air Force Times / Rachel Cohen – KC-46 tanker’s boom breaks, dents plane while refueling fighter jet

Air Force officials are investigating a mishap that heavily damaged a KC-46 Pegasus tanker plane while it refueled a fighter jet last month, Air Force Times has learned.

The tanker was on its way from Glasgow Prestwick Airport in Scotland to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, when it was tasked to gas up an F-15, an Air Force official confirmed Wednesday.

Investigators believe that during the rendezvous, the two aircraft were traveling at such different speeds that the refueling boom forcibly broke away from the fighter jet and slammed back into the KC-46, the official said. The Pegasus safely continued on to New Jersey after the mishap.

(…) It’s unclear if the Oct. 15 incident is related to multiple boom design issues that the Air Force added to the KC-46′s extensive list of faults in 2018, including that the pipe was too stiff to properly refuel lighter aircraft.

That has prevented the KC-46 from refueling the A-10C Thunderbolt II attack plane. (…)The Pegasus is intended to be a more versatile, resilient tanker than earlier designs and carry up to 65,000 pounds of cargo.

(…) In September, the Air Force cleared the Pegasus to fly combat refueling missions around the world on airframes other than the A-10.

(…) Boeing must cover the cost of nearly $7 billion in needed fixes that have accumulated so far, about $2 billion more than the Air Force paid for the planes.

The service plans to buy at least 179 KC-46 airframes for $4.9 billion. Officials expect airmen will need to use workarounds while flying the jets until around 2025 or so, when significant design fixes are available.


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Photo © Senior Airman Joseph Morales, U.S. Air Force (as published in ibid)