Boeing Delivers First KC-46, But Technical Fixes Still Years Away

Air Force Accepts Flawed Boeing Tanker in a $44 Billion Program (excerpt)

(Source: Bloomberg News; published Jan 10, 2019)

By Anthony Capaccio

The US Air Force has taken delivery of its first Boeing KC-46 tanker, which is more than two years late, and despite major technical deficiencies. It said it will withhold payment of $28 million per aircraft until the faults are fixed. (USAF photo)

The U.S. Air Force has accepted the first delivery of Boeing Co.’s long-delayed aerial refueling tanker despite flaws that remain to be fixed, the service said Thursday.

The first eight of 179 planned KC-46 aerial tankers in the $44 billion program will be accepted from now through February. That’s more than two years late -- and it may take as long as four more years to upgrade the troubled camera system used in refueling operations.

The Air Force is withholding as much as $28 million from the final payment on each aircraft as a financial hook to ensure Boeing makes the necessary improvements.

“We have identified, and Boeing has agreed to fix at its expense, deficiencies discovered in developmental testing of the remote vision system,” Captain Hope Cronin, an Air Force spokeswoman, said in a statement. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Bloomberg News website.

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Air Force Accepts KC-46A

(Source: US Air Force Secretary; issued Jan 10, 2019)

ARLINGTON, Va. --- The Air Force accepted the first KC-46A Pegasus tanker from the Boeing Company Jan. 10.

This is a major milestone for the next generation tanker and will allow Airmen to begin operational testing and flight training.

The Air Force has identified, and Boeing has agreed to fix at its expense, deficiencies discovered in developmental testing of the remote vision system. The Air Force has mechanisms in place to ensure Boeing meets its contractual obligations while initial operational testing and evaluation continues.

The formal delivery ceremony at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, will occur as early as late January.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: In a separate statement to the Washington Post, the Air Force said it “has determined that these deficiencies do not prevent the tanker from carrying out its primary mission,” and that “corrective actions” to fix the deficiencies should take three to four years.
Apart from the remote vision system, the main other deficiency concerns the retraction and maneuver of the extending aft refueling boom.)

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U.S. Air Force Accepts First Boeing KC-46A Pegasus Tanker Aircraft

(Source: Boeing Co.; issued Jan. 10, 2019)

SEATTLE --- The U.S. Air Force has accepted the first Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft, setting the stage for the aircraft’s delivery to McConnell Air Force Base, in Wichita, Kan., in the coming weeks.

“The KC-46A is a proven, safe, multi-mission aircraft that will transform aerial refueling and mobility operations for decades to come. We look forward to working with the Air Force, and the Navy, during their initial operational test and evaluation of the KC-46, as we further demonstrate the operational capabilities of this next-generation aircraft across refueling, mobility and combat weapons systems missions,” said Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “I want to thank the men and women of the Air Force and across the Boeing tanker team who made this happen.”

During extensive flight testing, six KC-46 completed more than 3,800 flight hours and offloaded more than four million pounds of fuel to A-10, B-52, C-17, KC-10, KC-135, KC-46, F-15E, F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft. The Pegasus has been rigorously tested throughout all aspects of the refueling envelope and in all conditions, including day, night and covert.

With the signing of what’s known as the DD250 paperwork, the delivery activities can proceed. McConnell Air Force Base will receive the first four KC-46 aircraft, all of which are ready for delivery, with four subsequent aircraft destined for Oklahoma’s Altus Air Force Base, beginning as early as next month.

Boeing is on contract for 52 of an expected 179 tankers for the Air Force. Beyond the first aircraft that was accepted today, nine aircraft are undergoing customer acceptance testing with the remaining aircraft of the contracted amount in production.

“This is an exciting and historic day for the Air Force and Boeing, as we hand over the first of many KC-46 tankers,” said Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg. “I’m proud of the dedication and commitment by our enterprise-wide team, and we’re honored to provide this valuable and capable aircraft to our customer. We look forward to continuing to build and support the KC-46 for the Air Force—and other customers across the globe—for decades to come.”

The KC-46, derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, is built in Boeing’s Everett, Wash., facility.

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