Boeing is optimistic about securing its first international KC-46A Pegasus tanker customer as South Korea prepares to downselect a supplier by month’s end.

According to one source with knowledge of the programme, Korea has accepted final offers from Boeing, Airbus and Israel Aerospace Industries to delivery four aerial refuelling tankers, and is due to pick a winner by the end of this month with an announcement expected to "tickle out" by mid-July. That downselection comes as Japan prepares to release its own request for proposals for tanker aircraft in the coming weeks. The current solicitation is in draft form.

At a media briefing in Paris on Sunday (June 14), Boeing’s outgoing VP of business development and strategy Christopher Raymond said he would “stay paranoid” until the final decision, but he thinks Boeing’s KC-46A offering ticks the right boxes for Korea.

On the European front, Raymond says Boeing will proceed carefully by only going after business that meets its criteria. “I think we would try to compete [KC-46A] only where we understand the ‘five Ps’: product, price, presence, partnerships and geopolitics. They all play in these big decisions,” he says.

Boeing is on contract to deliver 179 tankers to USAF at a rate of about 15 aircraft per year through 2027, which the company says that’s “job No. 1”. There is also a lingering follow-on tanker requirement called KC-Y.

The program is several months behind schedule, but Boeing still expects its first full-up KC-46 tanker flight this summer, and the first four engineering and manufacturing development aircraft will be delivered this year to support a DOD low-rate initial production decision.

Source: Flight International