NEWINGTON, N.H. — The New Hampshire Air National Guard is set to become the first guard unit in the country to receive the Air Force’s new aerial refueling tanker, the KC-46A Pegasus.
Seacoastonline.com reports the first of 12 aircraft are due to begin arriving in New Hampshire in late summer or early fall. The new planes will replace the KC-135 tankers now flown from the Pease Air National Guard base in Newington.
"It's the oldest flying aircraft and it's Boeing," said Col. Paul Loiselle, KC-46A program chief for Pease, referring to the KC-135 tankers, which were designed in the 1950s. "We have the oldest Boeing and we're going to get the newest Boeing."
Col. John Pogorek, the commander of the 157th Air Refueling Wing, said a flaw in the new plane, related to a camera on the fuel boom, will have no effect on the plane's deployment to New Hampshire.
"With the parameters they put in place, I think they can mitigate any risk right now, and they're saying fixes are anywhere between three and four years," he said.
A New Hampshire guard official says the flaw would not prevent air guard members from carrying out their mission of in-air aircraft refueling.
The flaw is in the vision system that controls the refueling boom. With the KC-135, the boom operator lays prone at the back of the aircraft, looking out a window to manipulate the boom into place. With the new plane, the operator sits forward and uses a joystick to manipulate the boom based on images sent from a camera mounted on the boom. The problem arises when the tanker is flying directly away from the sun and the boom operator's onscreen vision is sometimes obscured by sun glare.
The last KC-135 will leave Pease on March 24.