USAF orders 18 more KC-46A Pegasus tankers

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USAF orders 18 more KC-46A Pegasus tankers

This brings the total number of KC-46A aircraft ordered so far to 52

Boeing has secured another contract to deliver 18 KC-46A aerial tankers to the U.S. Air Force (USAF). This brings the total number of aircraft ordered so far to 52.

Boeing received its first two production lots, for 7 and 12 aircraft, in August 2016. The third lot, for 15 aircraft, was awarded in January 2017.

“We’re excited to partner with the Air Force on an aircraft that will provide its fleet unmatched capabilities and versatility,” said Mike Gibbons, Boeing KC-46A tanker vice president and program manager, in the company News Release. “This is another big milestone for the team and we look forward to delivering this next-generation, multi-role tanker for years to come.”

Boeing plans to build 179 of the 767-based refueling aircraft for the Air Force to replace its legacy tanker fleet. Tanker deliveries are expected to begin later this year.

Boeing received an initial contract in 2011 to design and develop the Air Force’s newest tanker aircraft. The KC-46A is a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.

Boeing is assembling KC-46 aircraft at its Everett, Wash., facility.

Noteworthy on Jul. 6, 2018 the company was cleared to deliver the first KC-46A to the U.S. Air Force following the completion of the final flight tests.

“With this milestone complete, the test program has demonstrated a level of maturity that positions Boeing to deliver, and the Air Force to accept, an aircraft by the end of October 2018,” said Dr. Will Roper, the Air Force service acquisition executive.

The USAF’s 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.

Photo credit: Boeing

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