First USAF KC-46 tanker to arrive at McConnell AFB on Nov. 16

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Boeing cleared to deliver first KC-46A to USAF

But Boeing can’t confirm an exact delivery date for the KC-46

A new date has been set for the delivery of the first Boeing KC-46A aerial refueling tanker to the U.S. Air Force (USAF).

As reported by The Whichita Eagle, the jet is expected to arrived at McConnell Air Force Base (AFB) on Nov. 16. The USAF is soliciting for a contractor to provide audio-visual and other equipment for the “McConnell AFB KC-46 Pegasus Welcoming Ceremony.”

The solicitation said the equipment “must be in place no later than . . . 10 AM 16 Nov 2018 and removed NLT 4:00 PM 17 Nov 2018.”

The solicitation also notes that those dates are “subject to change to a later date.”

“The contract solicitation for the KC-46 arrival ceremony is the next step in preparing our base and our Airmen for the delivery,” McConnell said in an e-mailed statement on Oct. 23, 2018. “We have been watching the program’s progress to ensure we are prepared when the time comes to celebrate the arrival.”

That statement also notes that the ceremony’s date could change.

“ . . . The contract will not be awarded until we have a solid delivery date agreed upon between the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Air Force, and Boeing,” the statement said.

A Boeing spokesman said he couldn’t confirm an exact delivery date for the KC-46.

“We continue to plan for first delivery in fourth quarter this year,” Charles Ramey, Boeing’s KC-46 program spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Noteworthy as we have recently reported Bloomberg has revealed that the USAF would not take delivery of its first new tanker in late October.

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

The KC-46A tanker modernization program is among the Air Force’s highest acquisition priorities. 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: Boeing

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