KC-46A Progress

The Air Force and Boeing are 40 percent done with the KC-46A development program and, so far, are meeting many requirements early, said Maj. Gen. John Thompson, program executive officer for tankers. “Our way forward is to continue with good execution . . . to fully fund the test program [and] develop the . . . sustainment strategy,” said Thompson on Sept. 17 during his program update at AFA’s Air and Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. Air Force officials signed off on the KC-46 weapon system’s critical design review in August, and the first two developmental aircraft are on the assembly line at Boeing’s facility in Everett, Wash. That means the government-industry team is on track for the first flight of the first 767-2C freighter, which is the foundation of the KC-46 design, in June 2014, said Thompson. The first flight of a fully provisioned KC-46 is slated for January 2015 and officials expect to enter low-rate initial production of the tanker in August 2017, with an expected delivery of 179 tankers by 2028, said Thompson. “Requirements and funding stability are absolutely key,” he said. Thompson made the point to note that the Air Force has done a good job of protecting the KC-46—one of its top three acquisition priorities—in the face of budget sequestration and continued budget uncertainty.