Details have emerged of another configuration item for the US Air Force's future fleet of Boeing 767-based KC-46A tankers, with Marshall Aerospace to supply the type's integrated-body fuel tanks.

Announcing its receipt of a contract for the design, certification and manufacture of an initial batch of development tanks on 3 May, Marshall said: "It is expected that production orders will follow for more than 650 tanks for the USAF over a 15-year period."

The Cambridge-based firm, which said it was selected by Boeing last year, has forecast its total potential business linked to the US programme at more than £100 million ($165 million). "The company believes the KC-46A tanker aircraft will have good export prospects with potential for the manufacture of further integrated body fuel tanks into the future," it said.

KC-46A Hornets - Boeing 
© Boeing

Marshall Aerospace chief executive Steve Fitz-Gerald said: "Over the past few months we have been supporting Boeing with definition and risk reduction work, and we are now looking forward to starting the detailed work on the programme."

Earlier this year, Boeing won the USAF's protracted KC-X competition, beating a rival EADS North America proposal using a development of the Airbus A330-200. According to Marshall, the service's 179 KC-46A tankers will each have four integrated body fuel tanks "to enhance the aircraft's flight range and refuelling capability".

The new contract on the KC-46A follows Marshall's previous work in developing and producing auxiliary fuel tanks for other Boeing products. These include the US Navy's 737-based P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and extended-range variants of the commercial 747 and 777.

Earlier KC-767A-model tanker/transports produced for export operators Italy and Japan were also equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks installed in their cargo holds.

Source: Flight International