The KC-46A Pegasus program received Milestone C approval from US under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics Frank Kendall, signaling the aircraft is ready to enter into production.
Work is now underway to award the first two low-rate initial production lots within the next 30 days.
Securing approval to begin low rate initial production required completion of several aerial refueling demonstrations, to include refueling an F-16 Fighting Falcon, C-17 Globemaster III and A-10 Thunderbolt II off the boom, and an AV-8 Harrier II and F/A-18 Hornet off both hose and drogue systems. The KC-46 also proved its receiver capability by taking fuel from a KC-10 Extender.
Some demonstrations were delayed due to higher than expected axial loads in the boom. Boeing installed hydraulic pressure relief valves to alleviate loads and last month all remaining demonstrations were quickly completed.
The Air Force awarded the contract to Boeing for two lots, totaling 19 aircraft, and associated spare parts for a pre-negotiated US$2.8bn combined value on August 18, 2016.
The first aircraft deliveries will be to McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, and Altus AFB, Oklahoma. A total of 18 tankers are scheduled to be delivered by early 2018.
The test program will continue with the KC-46 undertaking a robust schedule of Federal Aviation Administration and military certification flight testing, including refueling test flights, in order to achieve full certification for aircraft in the Air Force and Department of Defense inventory.
August 19, 2016