The U.S. Air Force announced Tuesday that the Boeing-built (NYSE: BA) KC-46A Pegasus refueling tanker aircraft officially entered into the initial operational test and evaluation phase, FlightGlobal reported Thursday.
The service branch said IOT&E seeks to assess the tanker’s capabilities, suitability and effectiveness for cargo and passenger transportation, air-to-air refueling and medical evacuation missions.
As the Air Force kicks off the operational testing phase, the company will continue to address category-one issues in the tanker’s design. Some of the identified deficiencies are issues with the remote vision system’s image resolution and cargo floor restraints.
The service branch expects KC-46A to reach full operational capability by 2022 or 2023.
Boeing is now in contract to produce 67 tankers for the Air Force. In September, the company secured a potential $2.6B contract modification to produce 15 lot 5 KC-46 aircraft, which received Milestone C approval from the Department of Defense in August 2016.