The KC-46 Pegasus program continues to be a problem for Boeing. Delivery rates are lower than planned and articles describing the shortcomings in the jets continue to get circulated. They have a long way to go, and Boeing is going to have to spend a lot more money before they are fully capable. Meanwhile, jet do continue to be built and delivered. The earliest jets were given civil registrations because they were undergoing a civil certification program as well as a military one. Two of those jets are now back at Everett getting reworked – presumably because they will ultimately get delivered to the USAF. I shot a couple of them on the airfield while up there one sunny weekend.
While sitting at the terminal at Honolulu waiting for our flight home many moons ago, I was staring out of the window at the traffic arriving and departing. Being in a different area meant plenty of different airlines as well as the more familiar ones. I created a post a while back that included some of the more usual operators. However, the airport shares a runway with the Air Force base. When you are on final approach, you get to see some of the fighters in shelters. It also means that some military traffic might arrive.
A bunch of F-16s started appearing as they rolled out after landing. I don’t know whether Hawaii was their destination or just a good stopover as part of a Pacific crossing. They weren’t making the journey unsupervised though. A KC-10 was dragging them across the ocean and it soon showed up too. I guess the last refueling was the cue for the F-16s to put in a burst of speed to get in first with the “Gucci” following them home.
Seeing a KC-46 at Boeing Field is not necessarily such a surprise. However, seeing one parked up at the FBO was more unusual. I am not sure whether the aircraft had been accepted and was ready for delivery or had actually come across country for a visit. Either way, a USAF crew was about to fly it back across the country. The size of the taxiways meant that it had to cross the runway to taxi up to the departure end where it could line up and head off on its way east. Was it a delivery? Who knows?
The USAF operates a small fleet of Boeing 757s for VIP transport. These C-32s are often thought of for their role transporting the Vice President when they adopt the call sign of Air Force Two. However, they transport a lot more people than just the Veep with other cabinet officials using them as well as senior Air Force staff.
One of them was at Paine Field for a while. I had heard that it had flown in but had assumed it had gone again. When I went up one evening after work (when the light was looking great and another jet I was interested in was due back), the people there told me it was still around. I figured it would be there for a lot longer and paid no further attention until someone noticed that it had moved out of its parking area on to a taxiway.
As with all of these things, nothing happened fast. Since the light was just getting better and better, I didn’t mind too much. Eventually a bunch of the passengers showed up – that will warrant its own post – and then they started up and taxied. They had to hold for a short while near the threshold so there was lots of time to get some shots. Then they were off. I figured, being a 757, they would be airborne quickly. They must have been heavy, though, since they ran a long way down the field before rotating.
From my new spot, you have a good view of the main civil ramp at Boeing as well as a slightly more distant view of the military ramp. The civil ramp was full of Max jets waiting to get delivered now that customers can start accepting the jets again. Not all agencies have cleared the Max so I guess Boeing was focusing on those that have and aiming to get as much cash as they could in before year end. You could also see the stored jets on part of the ramp as well as those in the parking lot across Marginal Way.
There were three 777X development airframes parked while the second jet was out on a test flight. I was hoping to get it returning but it was out over the Pacific off the Oregon coast and I rightly guessed that, despite the online forecast, it wouldn’t be back before sunset. The military ramp was a little quieter than I expected with a couple of KC-46s and some P-8s including the next one for the Royal Air Force. There were also two KC-46s up on the civilian flight test ramp. Plenty to see and it would have been better in morning light.
In this previous post about the hangars at Moffett Field, I mentioned that I was there to cover an exercise. The MC-130s were a big part of the exercise. They were loading up and launching down to remote landing strips on the California coast. The holds were full of equipment including off road vehicles. Loading these up was a tight fit. While the crews spent time getting everything ready to go, I was reasonably free to wander around the airframe and get some shots.
Here are some that I got that day. These were some of the oldest Combat Shadow (and maybe Hercules) airframes around at the time and I suspect that they have been replaced by now, I think by Combat King J models.
The Japanese (JASDF) were a customer for the tanker version of the Boeing 767 when Boeing was offering it in the early days. Japan and Italy were the only customers that I am aware of for that aircraft. Therefore, it was not a massive surprise that Japan ordered the KC-46 when Boeing developed it for the USAF. The first aircraft is now being completed and has been parked on the ramp up at Everett recently. Here it is undergoing some testing. Hopefully we shall get to see it flying soon.
Boeing seems to have addressed a lot of the problems with the KC-46 Pegasus program (but not all of them yet) and so the Air Force is taking delivery of jets at a regular rate. Since plenty have been built, there are enough to deliver. I was at Paine Field a while back when one of the jets was heading out on a test flight. I ended up being there for both the departure and the arrival since the flight was not that long. The good summer light that Seattle gets but we don’t like people to know about meant I got some reasonable shots of it.
This goes back quite a while to a day when I was at Paine Field for some 777X activities. After all that I had been there for was done, I was getting ready to pack up and go when I saw something off to the east approaching the field. It was large but seemed rather slow. It turned out to be a C-17. It made a pass straight across the field and I was hoping that they would break into the pattern but I was to be disappointed. They turned to the south and headed off towards McChord. Still, it was a nice addition to a sunny day of aviation photography.