Boeing has flown an export example of its KC-46A tanker for the first time, with the modified 767 on order for the Japan Air Self-Defence Force.

The debut sortie was conducted from the airframer’s Everett plant near Seattle, Washington, on 8 February. Already sporting its service markings and equipped with a refuelling boom, the widebody carries the temporary registration N6018N.

KC-46A Japan

Source: Boeing

Tokyo has signed up for four of the 767-based type

“This successful flight highlights an important milestone as the aircraft now transitions into the certification phase of development,” Boeing says.

Japan’s first of four KC-46As is scheduled for delivery later this year. The nation ordered its lead example in December 2017, via a Foreign Military Sales contract worth $279 million.

“This tanker’s ability to carry cargo and passengers also makes it a critical tool to support humanitarian relief efforts across the Pacific region and beyond,” says Will Shaffer, president of Boeing Japan.

Tokyo’s new aircraft will join its existing four KC-767J tankers. Cirium fleets data shows that these are aged between 12 and 15 years.

The US Air Force is Boeing’s lead customer for the KC-46A Pegasus, with the service having to date ordered 94 examples from a total requirement for 179. The service had by earlier this year taken delivery of 42.