The US Air Force (USAF) on Jan. 20, 2021 awarded Boeing a $2.1 billion contract for 15 KC-46A Pegasus tankers, expanding its fleet of aircraft that will not only set the standard for aerial refueling but will also help enable the integrated digital battlespace.
This agreement follows a $1.7 billion contract for 12 KC-46A tanker aircraft awarded by the USAF to Boeing.
Boeing received its first two production lots from the U.S. Air Force, for seven and 12 aircraft, in August 2016. The third lot, for 15 aircraft, was awarded in January 2017; the fourth lot for 18 aircraft in September 2018 and the fifth lot for 15 aircraft in September 2019.
Like a cellular tower in the sky, the KC-46 connects air forces to data needed to maintain the decision advantage and win on the 21st century battlefield.
“The KC-46’s adaptability is going to be a game-changer for the U.S. Air Force,” said Jamie Burgess, Boeing KC-46 tanker vice president and program manager, in the company news release. “We know our defense customers will need to transform how they fight and win in the modern era. That’s why Boeing is focused on making sure the KC-46 grows and changes with them.”
The KC-46 is a widebody, multirole tanker designed for state-of-the-art air refueling, cargo and medical transport. Boeing is now on contract for 94 KC-46A tankers.
“The investments Boeing is making in the KC-46 today will benefit generations of service members,” said Burgess. “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.”
“Our KC-46 fleet is growing, and we’re ready to extend the reach of next-generation air refueling to more of our Airmen,” said Col. Jason Lindsey, U.S. Air Force KC-46 System program manager.
Boeing delivered the first KC-46A to the U.S. Air Force in January 2019. Since then, the company has delivered 42 tankers to McConnell Air Force base in Kansas, Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma, Pease Air National Guard base in New Jersey and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina. The next-generation KC-46 is bringing new capabilities and operational flexibility to the USAF and international customers.
Boeing is assembling KC-46A aircraft at its Everett, Washington, facility, where it also continues production of the KC-46 tanker for Japan.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force
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