USAF orders 12 more KC-46 tankers from Boeing
Boeing received an additional order for 12 KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling and transport aircraft from the United States Air Force (USAF).
It is the sixth batch of aircraft ordered by the United States. The contract of $1.7 billion will bring Boeing’s backlog of the KC-46 to 79 aircraft. “The investments Boeing is making in the KC-46 today will benefit generations of service members,” said Jamie Burgess, Boeing KC-46 tanker vice president and program manager. “I believe the partnership between Boeing and the Air Force will also produce additional KC-46 innovations that will carry the warfighter well into the future.”
The USAF received its first KC-46A on January 10, 2019. So far, 42 aircraft have been delivered to four bases. An expected 179 tankers should eventually join the USAF fleet. Japan and Israel also chose the Pegasus, with respectively four and eight aircraft on order. The first Japanese KC-46 should take off in early 2021.
Boeing began developing the KC-46A for the USAF in 2011 to replace the KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender and reinforce the air force’s refueling capacities. Derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, it is built in the company’s Everett, Washington facility.
The KC-46A is a multirole tanker supposed to refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo, and patients. But the aircraft has encountered numerous technical problems since its delivery, including three “critical deficiencies” that could take years to fix.