The Hidden Truth Behind US Air Force’s New Strategy

The is planning a strategic move – the refueling of the retired F-117A Nighthawk by the KC-46A Pegasus, a project in progress and expected to be completed by March's end.

The KC-46A Pegasus, a product of Boeing, is currently certified to fuel 97% of the US . Although the F-117A Nighthawk retired over 15 years ago, it continues to serve in the Air Force, making its certification for refueling by the KC-46A Pegasus significant.

Interestingly, the F-117A Nighthawk, first introduced to the public in 1988 and infamous for one being shot down by Serbian air in 1999, was not stored at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base after . Instead, the remaining units were shifted to the highly classified Tonopah Test Range.

Not all retired F-117As were relocated; some were given to museums while others are still used for training and testing new aerial combat tactics. Of the transferred units, less than 45 remain in service. The plan is to maintain them until 2034.

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The KC-46A Pegasus has another role to fulfill. The needs to get certified for refueling the new B-21 Raider bomber and E-2D Hawkeye advanced warning aircraft. Furthermore, five types of aircraft still await certification from the KC-46A: the B-2 “Spirit” bomber, CV-22 Osprey, MC-130H Combat Talon, E-4 NOAC.

An interesting case is of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, also known as the “Warthog”, which is nearing the end of its service in the US Air Force. For this aircraft, no certification from KC-46 is required.

The KC-46's Remote Vision System (RVS) has been reported to have some persistent problems. Yet, the new version of this system, the RVS 2.0, isn't expected to be certified until 2026.

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