MILITARY | REFUELLER
The KC-46 Pegasus is a versatile aerial refuelling platform available in the global market that is ushering in a new era of efficient in-flight refuelling of military aircraft
The Boeing KC-46 Pegasus is a twin-engine aerial tanker developed by Boeing based on its 767 wide-body airliner also developed by the company that has been in service since July 1982. More than 1,000 of these platforms have been manufactured by the company that are flying today. The KC-46 aerial tanker was selected by the United States Air Force (USAF) in February 2011 to replace the fleet of Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers, a fourengine platform that has been the only aerial tanker with the service for more than six decades now. The KC-46 is equipped with both hose-and-drogue as well as boom receptacle system, built to match international standards rendering the aerial tanker capable of delivering fuel in flight to a wide variety of aircraft ranging from combat jets to heavy transports aircraft. The KC-46 offers a flexible multi-role capability and is capable of carrying troops, cargo, medical supplies with personnel as well as any combination of the three, while retaining the capability to undertake aerial refuelling task. The KC-46 also has a fully integrated capability that enables the crew to carry out aero medical evacuation. The aircraft can be rapidly reconfigured in just two hours for any selected mission and can be made to get airborne with a notice of just ten 10 minutes from a state of ground readiness.
The need to induct modern aerial tankers into the IAF is urgent and for this requirement, the latest version of the Pegasus would be a good choice that will remain so for decades to come as it is a very reliable and economical platform
|The KC-46 Pegasus has:|
|• Worldwide operations in all airspace|
|• 15-inch (38.1 centimeter) 787-style advanced electronic displays|
|• Redundant displays and controls for improved instruction and reliability|
|• 24-inch (61 centimeter) displays with 3-D refueling picture|
|• Comprehensive suite of logistics products and services|
|• Global support infrastructure|
|• Unparalleled lifecycle cost savings|
The KC-46 has been designed and built as a combat tanker platform using the proven combination of light, durable aluminium alloy and composite structure that help make it lighter and more fuel efficient. The attributes of this platform have been derived from the advanced avionics, aerodynamics, materials and propulsion incorporated on the Boeing 767 passenger and freighter aircraft. The KC-46 is equipped with chemical and biological protective systems as also has a robust suite of defensive systems and self-protective measures. It incorporates flight-deck armour for protection against small arms fire as also is electromagnetic pulse-hardened for undertaking missions in a nuclear environment. All of these systems are incorporated into the aircraft during the production phase itself and not as a retrofit or modification later on.
The KC-46 aerial tanker has lower maintenance and repair costs on account of which this platform will offer the lowest lifecycle costs resulting in substantial savings over its lifetime as compared with any of its competing platforms available in the market today. It thus makes it the most efficient and effective aerial tanker currently available. Overall, the KC-46 Pegasus is thus an extremely versatile aerial refuelling platform that is ushering in a new era of efficient inflight refuelling of military aircraft.
|Self Protection||Defensive Systems|
|Air Refueling Receptacle||Pratt & Whitney PW4062 Engines|
|Crew Compartment||Centerline Drogue System (CDS)|
|Camera Systems||Advanced Fly-By-Wire Refueling Boom|
|Wing Air Refueling Pods (WARPS)|
|Passenger Configuration||Aeromedical Evacuation Configuration|
|Width||156 ft 1 in (47.5 m)|
|Length||165 ft 10 in (50.5 m)|
|Height||52 ft 10 in (16.1 m)|
|Engines||Two Pratt & Whitney PW 4062 with 62,000 lbf (289.13 kN) thrust|
|Maximum Takeoff Weight||415,000 lbs (188,241 kg)|
|Maximum Landing Weight||310,000 lbs (140,614 kg)|
|Fuel Capacity||212,299 lbs (96,265 kg)|
|Maximum Air Speed||.86 Mach (650 mph)|
The first lot of aerial tankers that the Indian Air Force (IAF) acquired was in 2003 by way of a fleet of six IL-78 four-engine platforms from Russia. On account of problems with maintenance and product support for the fleet that has resulted in poor flight-line availability of the aircraft, the IAF has been trying to acquire new generation aerial tankers for nearly a decade and a half to replace this vintage fleet; but the effort so far has not been successful. With the acquisition of the Rafale combat jets from Dassault Aviation of France currently under delivery, the need for inducting modern aerial refuelling platforms has acquired greater urgency. Initially, the IAF had made significant progress in its move to acquire six of the twin-engine Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) which had emerged as the winner in tenders floated twice, but the contract could not be awarded on account of dispute over pricing that could not be resolved.
After the two failed attempts, the IAF had last floated a Request for Information in 2018 as part of its third attempt to acquire six aerial tankers. However, as per a statement from Air Headquarters in May this year, tender for this acquisition will be issued for the third time in the near future. Ever since the failure of the second tender for aerial tanker, the IAF has been looking at the KC-46 Pegasus as an alternative to the A330 MRTT. The need to induct modern aerial tankers into the IAF is urgent and for this requirement, the latest version of the Pegasus would be a good choice that will remain so for decades to come as it is a very reliable and economical platform and could prove to be a game changer for the IAF.