Air Force dubs KC-46A tanker ‘Pegasus’

By Dan Catchpole Herald Writer

The KC-46A aerial refueling tanker finally has an official name: Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek mythology.

U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III announced the name Thursday at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla.

Pegasus’ role in helping others is why the Air Force picked the name for the new tanker, according to a statement from Boeing.

The KC-46A is slated to perform multiple roles — air refueling and transporting patients, passengers and cargo. The plane is derived from Boeing’s 767 jetliner and is being built in Everett.

Welsh called Pegasus a “proud name,” said Jerry Drelling, a Boeing spokesman who attended the symposium.

The mythical creature helped the Greek hero Bellerophon slay the mighty monster Chimera and brought lightning to Zeus from Mount Olympus.

The program’s four test planes are in various stages of production, and test flights are slated to begin this summer, mostly at Boeing Field in Seattle.

The Air Force has ordered 179 KC-46A tankers from the Chicago-based company, which has to deliver the first 18 combat-ready planes by 2017. Deliveries will continue through 2027.

The Air Force is expected to decide early in the next to decade whether to order more KC-46As or another plane as it continues overhauling the tanker fleet, which currently consists largely of planes 30 to 50 years old.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.