SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- The first two KC-46 airbone refueling tankers made by top U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing left for McConnell Air Force Base in midwestern U.S. state of Kansas on Friday.
The delivery, which will be an overdue and much-anticipated replacement for the U.S. Air Force's outdated refuelers, will make the 22nd Air Refueling Wing the first unit to operate the world's newest air refueling tankers, Boeing said in a statement.
The McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita in Kansas is expected to take delivery of two more tankers in the coming weeks, and the other four aircraft of the same type will reach Oklahoma's Altus Air Force Base early February, Boeing added.
Boeing said the U.S. Air Force will start evaluation of the KC-46 Pegasus systems in operationally realistic scenarios very soon, and the pre-combat assessment will validate the KC-46's refueling capabilities with the Air Force's other military aircraft such as the B-2 bomber, C-5 cargo plane, and F-35 fighter.
The KC-46 tankers, which were made from the airframe of Boeing's commercial 767 jet and built in Boeing's Everett facility in Washington State, were part of Boeing's 44-billion-U.S. dollar program to create the first U.S.-built flying gas station for the U.S. armed forces since the KC-10A Extender program was launched in 1981.