Boeing tanker issue could delay production decision

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Delays to the start of KC-46 tanker production may arise after a recent test where it was unable to transfer fuel to a US Air Force C-17, the USAF says.

During the attempted maneuver, the tanker’s refueling boom experienced higher than expected axial loads, which prevented the transfer of fuel. The boom is a rigid, telescoping tube that extends and inserts into a receptacle on the receiving aircraft. Most of the larger Air Force aircraft use this refueling method.

Boeing is reported to understand the problem and is working on a fix. However, the Air Force does not yet know what impact the corrections will have to a planned Milestone C decision, scheduled for May, to formally approve production of the new tanker.

In an earlier test, the KC-46 successfully refueled an Air Force F-16, as well as a Navy F/A-18 and Marine Corps Harrier. All use the aircraft’s hose-and-drogue system for refueling, rather than the boom.

April 8, 2016

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