The United States Air Force and Boeing reached an agreement for the delivery date of the first KC-46 Pegasus Tanker. The long-delayed aircraft should arrive by October 2018, Boeing announced on June 20, 2018.

 

 

After months of skepticism from the USAF regarding Boeing’s capacity to deliver the Tanker this year, it seems the two parties finally reached an understanding. The new deadline is set two months earlier than the USAF projected, while a bit later than Boeing thought, as it previously announced delivery would take place during the summer.

The initial deadline was set for August 2017, but delays in certification and several technical flaws forced the U.S.-based company to postpone delivery. One of the critical defects identified in 2017 led the KC-46 boom to push into the serviced aircraft’s receptacle upon completion of the refueling, potentially damaging both planes.

The recurring delays ended up irritating the USAF. On March 20, 2018, Heather Wilson, the United States Secretary of the Air Force, commented on the matter during a Congress hearing on the Defense budget following a visit at Boeing’s plant in Seattle: “One of our frustrations with Boeing is they’re much more focused on their commercial activity than on getting this right for the Air Force and getting these aircraft to the Air Force”.

While the previous deadlines were self-decided by Boeing, the plane maker was, however, contractually bound to deliver 18 planes and 9 refueling pods by October 2018. It will have to face financial penalties, as the remaining 17 tankers are now set to be delivered by April 2019.