The US Air Force formally accepted the first Boeing KC-46A Pegasus air tanker and will receive delivery of the aircraft at McConnell Air Force Base, in Wichita, Kansas, in the next several weeks.
Boeing said that the USAF signed a DD Form 250, a material inspection and receiving report, on 10 January, officially ending years of missed delivery deadlines for the aircraft. The air tanker has been plagued with production issues that have cost Boeing billions of dollars in cost overruns and caused the US government to refuse delivery of the aircraft.
Yet, not all productions issues with the aircraft are resolved. Two category 1 deficiencies remain with the tanker: issues with the refueling boom’s remote revision system and axial loads. The USAF agreed to accept aircraft with deficiencies after receiving assurances that the problems would be fixed.
“The Air Force has mechanisms in place to ensure Boeing meets its contractual obligations while we continue with initial operational testing and evaluation,” the service said in a statement.
McConnell AFB will receive the first four KC-46 aircraft, all of which are ready for delivery, with four subsequent aircraft destined for Oklahoma’s Altus AFB, beginning as early as next month, says Boeing.
Boeing is on contract for 52 of an expected 179 tankers for the USAF. Beyond the first aircraft that was accepted, nine aircraft are undergoing USAF acceptance testing, with the remaining aircraft in production.
“We look forward to working with the Air Force, and the Navy, during their initial operational test and evaluation of the KC-46, as we further demonstrate the operational capabilities of this next-generation aircraft across refueling, mobility and combat weapons systems missions,” says Leanne Caret, president and chief executive of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “I want to thank the men and women of the Air Force and across the Boeing tanker team who made this happen.”
Boeing says six KC-46 aircraft have completed more than 3,800 flight hours and offloaded more than four million pounds of fuel to a variety of military aircraft, including the A-10, B-52, C-17, KC-10, KC-135, KC-46, F-15E, F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft.
The KC-46 is based on Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe and is built in the company’s Everett, Washington facility.