Military Aviation

Boeing to miss the delivery of first KC-46 Pegasus tanker to USAF on Oct. 27

USAF Secretary Heather Wilson says the late certification by the Federal Aviation Administration was the direct cause for KC-46 latest delay

Bloomberg has revealed that the delivery of the first KC-46 refueling tanker by Boeing to the U.S. Air Force (USAF) on Oct. 27 will not be happening.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson says the late certification by the Federal Aviation Administration was the direct cause for the latest delay.

Nevertheless the KC-46 still has unresolved deficiencies with its system for midair refueling.

“I’m not angry about it,” Wilson said of the latest delay. “We have some deficiencies that we are working through with Boeing to make sure those are corrected” and that the aircraft “we get flies, tanks, defends itself and does what it’s supposed to do.”

USAF officials met with the plane maker on Oct. 17, 2018 “to try to lay down the path forward for delivery and to make sure the deficiencies that have been identified are taken care of in a way that brings that aircraft in as promised,” Wilson explained.

Noteworthy Under Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Matthew Donovan said in June that Boeing would have delivered the first KC-46A aerial tanker to his service this October.

Donovan explained that “while the KC-46A flight test program is nearly complete, significant work remains.”

“The KC-46 is a top priority for The Boeing Company, and we have the best of Boeing working to ensure the U.S. Air Force gets their tankers as quickly as possible,” Boeing said.

The USAF’s KC-46A tanker modernization program is among the Air Force’s highest acquisition priorities too. Being able to refuel military aircraft in the air is critical to the U.S. military’s ability to effectively operate globally. The Air Force initiated the KC-46 program to replace about a third of its aging KC-135 Stratotanker fleet.

Boeing previously missed a forecast that the aircraft would be delivered last year, as the planemaker was trying to get airworthiness certifications and complete a flight test program.

The KC-46A Pegasus is designed to provide improved capability, including boom and drogue refueling on the same sortie; worldwide navigation and communication; airlift capability on the entire main deck floor; receiver air refueling; improved force protection and survivability; and multi-point air refueling capability.

Photo credit: Christopher Okula / U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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