Air Force Revises Projected KC-46A Usage Rates

The Air Force informed Congress this week that it has increased the planned lifecycle flying hours for its future fleet of 179 KC-46A tankers, and added some 60 additional aircrews that it will assign to these airplanes, in order to utilize them more closely to their full potential, according to a service release. As a result of the projected increased usage of the new tankers over their 40-year lifetime, the service has revised up its estimate of the money needed to operate and support these jets, now predicting $103 billion in total costs, an increase of 11.2 percent, states the Feb. 5 release. The original estimate was $92.7 billion, reported Reuters (via the Chicago Tribune), also on Feb. 5. The projected cost increase is because the Air Force will use the KC-46 “more often and more effectively” than today’s KC-135, and does not reflect increased costs to operate the KC-46, stressed service officials. “We’re just flying it more,” said Maj. Gen. John Thompson, the Air Force’s tanker program executive officer and KC-46 program director. (Washington, D.C., report by MSgt. Jess D. Harvey)