The U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing $2.1bn for 15 KC-46A tanker aircraft, spare engines and wing air refueling pod kits. The order is the third low-rate initial production lot for Boeing. The first two came in August 2016 and included seven and 12 planes, respectively, as well as spare parts.
Boeing plans to build 179 of the 767-based refueling aircraft for the Air Force to replace its legacy tanker fleet. Boeing was originally expected to deliver the first 18 aircraft by August 2017, but the delivery of the final aircraft was pushed back to January 2018, due to problems encountered during refueling trials. The company reworked the boom and has successfully tested it on various aircraft. CEO Dennis Muilenburg recently said that testing was on schedule, with no new technical discoveries.
The company said in July that it would recognize a $393m after-tax charge on the KC-46 Tanker programme — the fourth such charge in two years — reflecting “programme schedule and technical challenges”, including implementation of the hardware solution to resolve the refueling boom axial load issue identified during flight testing.
Boeing received an initial contract in 2011 to design and develop the Air Force’s next-generation tanker aircraft. As part of that contract, Boeing built four test aircraft – two configured as 767-2Cs and two as KC-46A tankers. Those test aircraft, along with the first production plane, have completed nearly 1,500 flight hours to date.
Boeing is assembling KC-46 aircraft at its Everett, Wash., facility.