U.S. Air Force says completed final tests for Boeing KC-46 program

FILE PHOTO: Boeing's KC-46 aerial refueling tanker conducts receiver compatibility tests with a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in Seattle, Washington, U.S., July 12, 2016. Christopher Okula/ U.S. Air Force/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

(Reuters) - Boeing Co’s KC-46 mid-air refueling tankers have completed the final flight tests ahead of its first aircraft delivery in late October, the company and the U.S. Air Force said on Friday.

The KC-46 test program will move to follow-on receiver aircraft testing and certifications required for operational testing, starting in 2019.

The KC-46 test team completed Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) flight testing in April and is working through associated paperwork to receive the STC, Boeing said.

Boeing is set to deliver 17 tankers by April next year, the U.S. Air Force said last month.

"With this milestone complete, the test program has demonstrated a level of maturity that positions Boeing to deliver, and the Air Force to accept, an aircraft by the end of October 2018," said Will Roper, an Air Force service acquisition executive. (

The KC-46, a multirole tanker, will refuel U.S., allied and coalition military aircraft using its boom and hose and drogue systems. The boom allows the tanker to transfer up to 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute, while the hose and drogue systems enable refueling of smaller aircraft with up to 400 gallons of fuel per minute.

Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas and Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Grant McCool