U.S. Air Force ‘problem-plagued’ tanker finished WARPs testing with AV-8B and F-18D/G aircraft
The U.S. Air Force has reported that its brand-new, problem-plagued tanker recently finished Wing Aerial Refueling Pods (WARPs) testing with an AV-8B and F-18D/G aicraft.
According to a recent service news release, one of the KC-46 Pegasus’ key features was successfully tested recently at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
“With WARPs, the KC-46 will be able to refuel two fighter aircraft at the same time; as opposed to a centerline drogue system, where only one aircraft can refuel at a time,” said Maj. Jacob Lambach, KC-46 Experimental Test Pilot, 418th Flight Test Squadron. “Fighter pilots usually show up in pairs and each has to watch and wait while their wingman refuels. Fighters’ combat mission isn’t to sit behind the tanker; it’s to fight. If we can refuel them both at the same time, they each only spend half as much time ‘out of the fight.”
Following successful completion of the connections, engineers had a multitude of data to review before it is certified by the Aerial Refueling Certification Agency. Engineers have to evaluate the performance of WARPs prior to fielding the capability to the warfighter; this includes looking at the free air stability, the hose reel response, the fuel system, and the human factors.
“The free air stability of the hose and drogue are evaluated during extension, while fully extended, and during retraction to ensure a safe environment for the receiver,” said Nathan Montoya, Aerial Refueling Engineer, 418th FLTS. “The receiver handling qualities are evaluated in the tanker wake environment and any differences between the left and right WARPs are noted. The WARPs hose reel response (how the system takes up hose slack) is evaluated at various contact rates, and hose lengths to ensure no excessive slack builds up which can damage the receiver. The fuel system is evaluated to determine if the fuel …read more
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