Boeing’s long-troubled KC-46A tanker development programme is nearing resolution, with only one outstanding deficiency expected to remain after this month, the company’s top defence executive says.
The programme entered this year with three “Category 1” deficiencies in US Air Force acquisition terminology. The first of those has been resolved and the second is expected to be approved by the USAF later this month, says Leanne Caret, chief executive of Boeing Defense, Space and Security.
Boeing is continue to work with USAF officials to find a way to resolve the third major deficiency with the tanker hardware and software, Caret says.
The last remaining item is a concern that the remotely operated refuelling boom can make contact with the receiver aircraft outside the receiver area without the contact being detected.
The USAF awarded Boeing a $4.9 billion contract nearly seven years ago to modify the 767-2C commercial freighter into the KC-46 military tanker. Boeing expects to deliver up to 179 KC-46As to the US Air Force, replacing a fleet of aging Boeing KC-135s.
But the company has reported billions in losses on the fixed-price development programme, as a range of unexpected problems arose during the development stage.
The Middle East remains a critical piece of Boeing’s export strategy for the new tanker, Caret says.