Boeing and Aurora Flight Sciences are investing in further developing advanced defensive systems and countermeasures for application on next-generation refueling and mobility platforms including the KC-46A Pegasus tanker.
Aurora Flight Sciences, a Boeing company, is leading the research and conceptual design of composite components to enhance operational survivability for aerial refueling and mobility missions. This work will also focus on producibility and manufacturing at Aurora’s Columbus, Miss., manufacturing facility.
“The KC-46A already features defensive systems that are unprecedented in a tanker,” said Justin Hatcher, advanced technology director for Boeing’s KC-46 Program. “We continue to evolve the KC-46A and other next-generation refueling and mobility platforms to further enhance mission versatility and survivability.”
Aurora Flight Sciences develops and applies innovative solutions to advance the future of flight. Its facility in Mississippi specializes in producing composite components and sub-assemblies for the aerospace industry, such as the composite skin for Boeing’s MQ-25 Stingray, the world’s first autonomous aerial refueler, which provide lightweight strengthening and anti-corrosive benefits that are crucial for the carrier-based aircraft.
“We excel at bringing futuristic concepts to life,” said Luke Colville, vice president of Aurora manufacturing and aerosystems. “With our research and development expertise, the composites production talent at Aurora Mississippi and our collaboration with Boeing, we’re building the future of next-generation refueling and mobility capabilities and growing the team to deliver them.”
Operationally deployed for global combat operations, the KC-46A features defensive systems and data integration for multi-mission aerial refueling support closer to the battlespace than existing tankers. With more data for the crew and fleet, including recent Block 1 upgrades to further enhance connectivity, the Pegasus can see and relay threat information to joint force warfighters for greater fleet survivability and mission success.
Mississippi is one of more than 40 states with workforce supporting the KC-46 program and its supplier network of about 37,000 U.S.-based employees. Aurora Mississippi leverages partnerships with Mississippi State University, including the MSU Advanced Composites Institute for employee training, as well as other institutions in Mississippi’s nexus of higher education and workforce development, such as East Mississippi Community College.