Air Force Says KC-46 Is A “Lemon” That It’s Trying To Make Lemonade Out Of

The U.S. Air Force has described its bedeviled KC-46A Pegasus tanker as a “lemon,” amid ongoing problems that prevent it from performing its primary aerial refueling mission on a day-to-day basis. Now the Air Force is trying to find other ways to make use of these aircraft, of which it has already received 42 examples located at four operating bases.With deliveries set to continue at a rate of two aircraft per month, the service is now looking to put the Pegasus to work by fast-tracking at least some of the aircraft already delivered into “limited operations,” but probably not involving its core mission set of aerial refueling. Nevertheless, the move could enable the Pegasus to at least provide some utility during real-world operations as the Air Force counts down to the declaration of full operational capability, which won’t happen until late 2023 or 2024 at the earliest.U.S. Air Force/Louis BrisceseA KC-46A Pegasus arrives at Travis Air Force Base, California, in March 2017.“As I look over the 10 years, I have to say… right now where we’re at in the program is we’re making lemonade out of lemons,” General Jacqueline Van Ovost, the head of Air Mobility Command, told members of the press, as reported by the Defense One website. The embarrassing setbacks that have become an all-too-familiar aspect of the next-generation tanker program were also highlighted yesterday in an unusually candid tweet from the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), which admitted that problems with the tanker put “America’s ability to effectively execute day-to-day operations and war plans at risk.”

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