KC-46A IOT&E reaches new milestone

  • Published
  • By Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Detachment 5

Initial Operational Test and Evaluation of the KC-46A reached a new milestone in December 2023 with the completion of a two-phased cyber assessment event held in September and December at McConnell AFB, KS.

The cyber assessment consisted of continuous coordination with multiple stakeholders over the span of a year. Stakeholders included the KC-46A Program Office, Air Mobility Command, multiple Cyber Test Organizations, as well as McConnell AFB, KS.

“This cyber assessment is the most comprehensive on-aircraft, radio-frequency-focused cyber event ever performed on the KC-46A Pegasus,” said Jonathan DeFeo, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Detachment 5 KC-46A IOT&E test director. “Everyone who assisted with this event contributed to accelerating the team’s efforts to establish operationally realistic cyber testing, while forging a path toward force-multiplying the KC-46A Pegasus’ capability to perform in today’s cyber-contested environments.”

The event was an overt assessment primarily focused on testing the cyber resiliency of the KC-46A Pegasus radio-frequency transceivers, flight deck avionics, and onboard Ethernet systems.

Four different test organizations, consisting of 18 cyber test personnel, executed seven test objectives across 32 different test cards. During phase one, the teams refined and scoped test objectives by creating a realistic aerial refueling mission scenario to integrate the operational realism required during the follow-on phase two event that occurred in December 2023.

This event is one of several IOT&E events as the program develops toward maturation, including the upcoming capstone cyber assessment that will provide data to determine the overall operational effectiveness, suitability, and mission capability of the KC-46A Pegasus weapon system.

“This event would not be possible without the unwavering support from Team McConnell,” said Mr. Jerome Manibusan, AFOTEC Detachment 5 Lead Cyber Test Planner for this event. “An event like this normally requires four to five months of testing spread across multiple visits. However, Team McConnell pulled through with providing a dedicated aircraft, maintenance crew, and aircrew that proved to be crucial in effectively executing this assessment in the short time period that was allocated to us.”