The threat to the Air Force’s KC-46A tanker contract from budget sequestration may have passed now that Congress has given the service some funding reprogramming authority, Air Force spokesman Ed Gulick told the Daily Report on Thursday. He said service officials “are evaluating the numbers based on the authority we believe we’ve been given by the bill” signed by President Obama on March 26. That legislation, H.R. 933, funds the Pentagon for the remainder of the fiscal year. “It looks like, from a sequestration standpoint, the KC-46 will have a positive outcome and won’t be unduly impacted by sequestration,” said Gulick. However, he added, “we won’t know completely until we run the final numbers.” Air Force officials initially expressed concern that the funding cuts caused by the sequester might prevent the Air Force from being able to make its contract payments to KC-46A supplier Boeing on time, thereby leading to a contract renegotiation on terms that would be less favorable to the US taxpayer and likely delay aircraft deliveries. For right now, however, Gulick said “everything is on track” with the KC-46’s upcoming critical design review and the tanker’s first flight, which is slated for 2015. (See also Sequester and the KC-46A and KC-46A Development Generally Stable, But.)
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.