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First Japan Air Self-Defense Force Boeing KC-46 tanker takes flight


The first Boeing KC-46 tanker destined for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) took to the skies on its maiden flight on February 8. This successful flight highlights an important milestone as the aircraft now transitions into the certification phase of development.

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First Japan Air Self Defense Force Boeing KC 46 tanker takes flight 01

Japan is the KC-46 program’s first international customer and is scheduled to receive its first jet this year (Picture source: Boeing)


“This is an exciting milestone for the JASDF and Boeing,” said Jamie Burgess, KC-46 program manager. “Japan is getting closer to receiving the most advanced air refueling tanker in the world.”

Japan is the KC-46 program’s first international customer and is scheduled to receive its first jet this year.

The KC-46A Pegasus is a widebody, multirole tanker that can refuel all U.S., allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures. Boeing designed the KC-46 to carry passengers, cargo and patients. The aircraft can detect, avoid, defeat and survive threats using multiple layers of protection, which will enable it to operate safely in medium-threat environments.

“Boeing’s KC-46 and its robust defensive systems will play an invaluable role in the security alliance between our two countries,” said Will Shaffer, president of Boeing Japan. “This tanker’s ability to carry cargo and passengers also makes it a critical tool to support humanitarian relief efforts across the Pacific region and beyond.”

The KC-46 refueling certification encompasses U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and JASDF aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a $279 million contract for the JASDF’s first KC-46A tanker in December 2017. The agreement was completed through the Foreign Military Sale process between the U.S. government and Japan. Japan is now on contract for a total of four KC-46 tankers.

Boeing is assembling KC-46A aircraft for both the U.S. Air Force and Japan on its 767 production line in Everett, Washington. Boeing’s Japanese partners produce 16% of the KC-46 airframe structure.


First Japan Air Self Defense Force Boeing KC 46 tanker takes flight 02

A KC-46 Pegasus refuels an A-10 Thunderbolt II with 1,500 pounds of fuel July 15, 2016 (Picture source: Boeing)