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​Boeing eyes international KC-46A, E-7 opportunities

Boeing is working on potential international deals related to its KC-46A tanker and the 737-based E-7 airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) aircraft.

The company has delivered 11 KC-46As to the US Air Force, and aims to have 18 delivered by the second quarter and “somewhere between 36 and 40 by the end of the year,” says Boeing vice-president Jeff Shockey, speaking with reporters in Singapore in late May.

“We are moving along and working closely with the customer on those deliveries,” he says. “Feedback is positive from operators.”

The figure of a possible 40 deliveries is four units higher than recent guidance from Boeing, which stated that 36 deliveries were targeted by year-end.

Shockey also addressed the highly-publicised foreign object debris (FOD) issues that halted KC-46A deliveries earlier this year.

“You've read about some of the issues we've had on KC-46A with FOD,” he says. “That's something that embarrasses us and really makes us want to go all in to figure out what we need to do as a company to execute better for our customers. It's very humbling when we have a stumble like that on a really key programme.”

Shockey also revealed that there are six KC-46A sales opportunities globally for up to 20 aircraft. These are in Indonesia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, NATO, Norway, and Japan. Of these, Japan already has orders for the type, but the UAE is a surprise given that it already operates the KC-46A’s rival, the Airbus Defence & Space A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT).

Shockey says the UAE may obtain three tankers to add to its fleet of three A330 MRTTs. Airbus, when asked about the UAE’s tanker plans, directed queries to Abu Dhabi.

Shockey adds that there is also potential to sell 10 additional E-7 AEW&C platforms internationally. He declined to specify which countries are interested in the capability, however.

“We have interest from a number of countries that I'm not at liberty to talk about. There seems to be a resurgence in the E-7.”

Seoul, at least, has stated interest in adding a pair of AEW&C assets to its existing fleet of four E-7s.

Qatar reportedly expressed interest in the E-7 in the past, but it is not clear if it is in the market for this capability. India is also exploring its AEW&C options, where it operates eight P-8Is, a type also derived from the 737.

Cirium’s Fleets Analyzer shows that there are 14 737-700 derived E-7s in service globally. In addition to South Korea, the Royal Australian Air Force operates six and the Turkish Air Force four. The Royal Air Force has a letter of intent for five.

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