Boeing

Side view of a KC-46A aerial refueling an F-16

KC-46A Pegasus tanker

The world’s most advanced aerial refueling aircraft, serving the U.S. Air Force and allies

KC-46A: The World’s Most Advanced Aerial Refueler

A KC-46A flies in the foreground as another flies in the background with its boom extended.

Ideal size and capability to ensure more booms in the air throughout the operational theater

  • The KC-46 delivers more fuel at all ranges and from shorter runways than the KC-135 aircraft it is replacing for the U.S. Air Force.
  • The KC-46 takes up less ramp space than competing commercial-derivative tankers, enabling mission reach at forward and austere airfields.

Proven aerial refueling systems and capacity to support the full spectrum of missions

  • The KC-46 features proven boom and hose-and-drogue systems capable of refueling all U.S., allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures.
  • The Pegasus tanker has already offloaded more than 78 million pounds (35.4 million kilograms) of fuel to a variety of receivers and conducted more than 9,000 sorties.
  • Current KC-46 air refueling receiver certifications include: AV-8B, B-1, B-52, C-5, C-17, C-130, C-135, E-3, E-8, EA-18, F-15, F-16, F/A-18, F-22, F-35, KC-10, KC-46, KC-135, P-8A and V-22.
  • The KC-46’s modernized fly-by-wire boom provides a receiver envelope three times larger than the receiver envelope of the KC-135 it is replacing for the U.S. Air Force.

KC-46: Enabling Global Reach With Capability, Survivability and Versatility

Top-down front view of KC-46 flying ahead of a KC-10 aircraft.

Combat-ready countermeasures and survivability

  • The KC-46 is built to U.S. Air Force specifications for combat readiness and survivability.
  • Multiple layers of self-protection systems and combat-ready defensive countermeasures include the Tactical Situational Awareness Suite; nuclear, chemical and biological hardening; flight deck armor; radio frequency threat detection; and infrared missile countermeasures.

Versatility for cargo, passenger or medevac airlift

  • The KC-46 accommodates three times more cargo pallets, up to twice as many passengers and about 30% more aeromedical evacuation patients than the KC-135 aircraft it is replacing for the U.S. Air Force.
  • The KC-46’s large cargo door and cargo rollers enable rapid mission reconfiguration. The Pegasus can switch from cargo mode to passenger/medevac modes in two hours.
  • The KC-46 tanker is capable of carrying as many military-standardized pallets as a C-17 and is compatible with all U.S. Air Force loaders.
  • The KC-46 provides onboard emergency oxygen and electrical power for medevac support.

Next-generation capability to evolve for the mission

  • The Advanced Battle Management System, a top modernization priority for the U.S. Air Force, will leverage the KC-46’s flight-test-proven Wing Air Refueling Pods to turn the tanker into an airborne “internet hotspot” connecting the data fabric of the all-domain warfighter at the tactical edge.
  • The U.S. production line builds the KC-46 to be a tanker from day one — not an aftermarket modification — making it uniquely suited to integrate new capabilities and advanced technology.

KC-46 Social Media: 24/7 Action Around the Globe

KC-46 Tanker: Flying Today’s Air-to-Air Refueling Missions, Poised for the Future

Top-down view of a KC-46A aerial refueling a C-17 while flying over the ocean.

Operationally deployed and delivering fuel today

  • The U.S. Air Force has approved the KC-46 to operationally refuel 97% of the receiver aircraft requesting support from U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), including 5th Gen stealth low-observable fighters.
  • The KC-46A provides in-flight refueling support for the Air Force’s highest priority missions, including presidential support and real-world, theater operational missions.
  • The U.S. Air Force operates the KC-46A Pegasus tanker out of five bases: Altus Air Force Base, McConnell Air Force Base, Pease Air National Guard Base, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

Certified aircraft and production line

  • The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has already certified the KC-46A to the maximum extent possible.
  • The KC-46A is the only tanker that meets the stringent airworthiness and performance requirements of the FAA and U.S. Air Force.
  • Built in the U.S. with suppliers in more than 40 states.

Delivering multirole tankers to the U.S. Air Force and allies

  • Boeing has built and delivered 61 of the 179 KC-46A tankers currently planned for the U.S. Air Force.
  • Boeing has delivered two KC-46A tankers to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. Boeing delivered the first KC-46A tanker to Japan in October 2021 and second in February 2022. Boeing is currently on contract to deliver four KC-46A tankers to Japan.
  • The Israeli Ministry of Defense has signed Letters of Offer and Acceptance for four KC-46A multirole tankers.

KC-46 News and Milestones

KC-46 Feature Stories: Go Behind the Scenes of the Pegasus

Veteran gives KC-46A stamp of approval

Veteran gives KC-46A stamp of approval

May 31, 2022 in Defense

Kareem Foster is one of the last people “to put eyes on” each KC-46A Pegasus before delivery. It’s a responsibility that energizes the 20-year Army veteran and his team.

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KC-46 refueling F-16

KC-46A Pegasus Supports Missions Around the Globe

May 23, 2022 in Defense

The Air Force has been putting the multirole Pegasus to work across a spectrum of operational missions.

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Boeing Delivers 50th KC-46A to U.S. Air Force

Boeing Delivers 50th KC-46A to U.S. Air Force

January 13, 2022 in Defense

See the history-making arrival of the first two KC-46A tankers to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

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Blueprints

KC-46: Meeting Tomorrow’s Needs Today

July 14, 2021 in Defense

The KC-46A Pegasus is adding another line to its resume. Beyond aerial refueling and the transportation of passengers, cargo and patients.

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First KC-46 tanker delivered to Seymour Johnson AFB

First KC-46 tanker delivered to Seymour Johnson AFB

June 12, 2020 in Defense

On June 12, Boeing delivered its 34th KC-46 Pegasus tanker to the U.S. Air Force, the first to be stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

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Dani sitting in engine

Boeing honors Gold Star family at KC-46 delivery

March 5, 2020 in Defense

Tribute to Air Force staff sergeant who served as tanker boom operator

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Senior Air Force official calls Boeing a 'US icon' Image

Senior Air Force official calls Boeing a 'US icon'

December 9, 2019 in Defense

Boeing-USAF team clears flight-test milestones

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KC-46 Tanker: Most Capability and Best Life-Cycle Value

A KC-46A airframe sits in the center of a Boeing factory during production
  • The KC-46 tanker represents the best value over its total life cycle, with additional capabilities not found on competitor aircraft.
  • The KC-46 has lower acquisition, operations and sustainment costs than any existing widebody aerial refueler. The KC-46 helps the U.S. and allies maximize investment and make every dollar count.
  • Four KC-46 aircraft can operate for the price of three larger refuelers, enabling more booms in the air and bringing more fuel to the fight.
  • Fleet commonality and interoperability leverages economy of scale for the U.S. and allies in training, maintenance, operations and logistics.
  • Building the KC-46 as a tanker from day one ensures a longer lifespan and reduces airframe corrosion that can occur in post-production modification.

KC-46 Videos: Watch the KC-46 at Work

KC-46 has the ideal size and capability to get into and out of austere airfields and takes up less ramp space to ensure more booms in the air throughout the operational theater.

  • KC-46 Specifications
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 0.86 Mach (650 mph)

KC46 Key Features and Capabilities Download KC-46 key features and capabilities graphic.