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Junior USAF Tanker Takes Off With Waning Sun Its Sole Companion

The Boeing KC-46 Pegasus is one of those incredible winged machines the U.S. Air Force (USAF) is using as a sort of flying gas stations. The tanker has been in service since 2015, making it the youngest such vehicle deployed in the skies over the world, but also kind of a rare sight, given how a little over 40 of them have been made so far (out of a total of 179 planned).
Boeing KC-46 Pegasus taking off from Nevada AFB 29 photos
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Back in July, the Pegasus met its “joint force air refueling requirements,” and later that same month the Air Mobility Command approved “more daily taskable operational capabilities” for it. That means a lot more flights are on the horizon for the plane, as it moves to take its rightful place among the veterans of the job, aircraft like the KC-135 Stratotanker or the KC-10 Extender.

The main pic of this piece (click photo to enlarge) shows the Pegasus during one of these flights. The image, with the silhouette of a massive winged machine hanging on a backdrop with the Sun setting over the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, was released by the USAF not long ago, and is the perfect fit for our Photo of the Day section.

This particular plane is deployed with the 22nd Air Refueling Wing out of McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas. It was in Nevada as it was taking part in the Red Flag-Nellis 21-3 exercise, testing its refueling boom and state-of-the-art fly-by-wire controls.

Just like all others of its family, the plane is powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney engines that develop 62,000 lbf (289.13 kN) thrust and are capable of taking the plane to speeds of 660 mph (1,062 kph), which is close to Mach 1.

The Pegasus comes with a maximum take-off weight of 415,000 lbs (188,241 kg), and it can carry 212,299 lbs (96,265 kg) of fuel.

Although designed primarily as a tanker, it can also move 58 passengers as per FAA certification (or 114 for contingency operations), or up to 18 pallets of cargo. The plane can also act as a medevac, being capable of transporting 54 patients.

Editor's note: Gallery shows other Boeing KC-46 Pegasus.

 
 
 
 
 

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