Just Watching This Air Force Tanker's Landing Approach Can Make You Nauseous

A U.S. Air Force KC-46 Pegasus tanker made an unorthodox and—to the uninitiated, anyway—dangerous-looking landing. The brand new tanker, coming for a landing at Le Bourget Airport in Paris, looked more than a little out of control before pulling off a near-perfect touchdown.

The KC-46 “approaches runway 21 from the left, hooks a low and tight turn off the base leg, and makes a last-second play for the threshold to make a nice touchdown pretty close to the centerline,” according to The Aviationist, which first spotted the vid.

The KC-46’s landing marks the debut of the new tanker design at the Paris Air Show. The KC-46 is a modified Boeing 767-200ER commercial airliner with a 787 cockpit, but instead of passenger seats the jet is outfitted to carry cargo and up to 212,299 pounds of jet fuel. Alternately, the KC-46 can carry up to 58 passengers and 29,483kg of cargo. The U.S. Air Force plans to purchase 179 of the tankers.

The KC-46 Pegasus tanker on the ground at the Paris Air Show, 2019. (Photo: Michel Euler, AP)

The KC-46 is at the air show not only to show off the Air Force’s latest tanker but also to drum up foreign sales. That may be a tough sell, as the KC-46 is nearly three years behind schedule, has repeatedly experienced issues with garbage found left inside the aircraft during the manufacturing process, and the remote camera system for mid-air refuelling has been dogged by problems.

The Air Force has twice suspended deliveries of the aircraft over manufacturing issues and a new General Accounting Office report states that some Air Force commanders have been reluctant to let KC-46s refuel their aircraft, concerned that the refuelling boom could strike and damage their aircraft.

The Paris Air Show is held at Le Bourget Airport June 17 to June 23.

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