Boeing [BA] said on Wednesday its KC-46 aircraft, set to be the Air Force’s next mid-air refueling tanker, has received final certification from the Federal Aviation Administration ahead of an expected first delivery this October.

The KC-46 Pegasus has now received both required FAA certificates three years after beginning flight tests, and company officials said the Air Force is expected to grant a Military Type Certificate (MTC) in the coming months.

A KC-46 refuels an A-10 during testing. Photo: Air Force.
A KC-46 refuels an A-10 during testing. Photo: Air Force.

“Our Boeing/Air Force test team did an outstanding job successfully leading us through all the requirements, and we appreciate the FAA’s collaboration as well. This milestone is important in that it is one of the last major hurdles in advance of first delivery to the U.S. Air Force,” Mike Gibbons, Boeing’s KC-46 program manager, said in a statement.

Boeing is on contract for 34 KC-46s to begin replacing the Air Force’s KC-135 refueling tankers, also built by the company, and anticipates an eventual total delivery of 179 aircraft.

The KC-46 received the FAA’s Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) after officials validated the aircraft’s boom and drogue aerial refueling systems during tests. STC certification flight tests were completed in April, a Boeing official previously told Defense Daily.

Boeing previously received an Amended Type Certificate for the aircraft’s configuration in December 2017.

The Air Force completed MTC testing for KC-46 in July, where it demonstrated fuel receiver testing with F-16 and C-17 aircraft (Defense Daily, July 16).

Last month, the Air Force awarded Boeing a $10 million contract modification to conduct a Block 1 risk reduction survey for the KC-46’s radio systems and potential addition of new capabilities (Defense Daily, August 8).