Boeing Defense, Space & Security has drawn a U.S. Air Force contract worth $2.1 billion for 15 KC-46A tanker aircraft, spare engines, and wing air refueling pod kits, representing the third low-rate initial production lot for the refueling aircraft. Last August, the USAF granted two LRIP contracts to Boeing, totaling $2.8-billion, for seven and 12 aircraft, respectively, plus spare parts.
"Placing an order for another 15 aircraft is another important milestone for the KC-46 program," according to Col. John Newberry, KC-46 System program manager. "I know the warfighter is excited about bringing this next generation capability into the inventory."
The KC-46 Pegasus was developed by Boeing for military aerial refueling and strategic military transport, and is based on the twin-engine, wide-body platform long occupied by the 767 passenger jet program. In 2011, the design was selected by the USAF in a competition to replace its KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft.
In addition to refueling, the aircraft can be deployed for cargo or passenger (or patient) transport.
Boeing plans to build 179 of the refueling aircraft to replace the USAF’s current tanker fleet. The OEM is assembling the KC-46 aircraft at its Everett, Wash., complex, and the first 18 jets are due to be delivered in August.
“This award is great news for the joint Boeing-Air Force team and reinforces the need for this highly efficient and capable tanker aircraft,” stated Mike Gibbons, Boeing KC-46A tanker vice president and program manager. “Our Boeing industry team is hard at work building and testing KC-46 aircraft, and we look forward to first delivery.”