KC-46A Pegasus Aerial Tanker Facing Schedule Pressure
Jan 27/15: Flight test.
Boeing conducted a flight test from Payne Field in Everett, Washington. The four-hour flight was uneventful, but well-documented.
Dec 10/14: spares. Boeing is awarded a not to exceed $84.5M undefinitized contract action modification (P00054) to previously awarded contract FA8625-11-C-6600 for 4,880 production support equipment items and 6 production spare parts. Work will be performed at Seattle, WA, and is expected to be completed by June 30, 2016. $9.5M in FY14 aircraft procurement funds and $32.2M in FY15 aircraft procurement funds are being obligated at the time of award.
Dec 03/14: wiring. Boeing Dennis Muilenburg told investors during a conference organized by Credit Suisse that wiring problems that had led to delays and charges were now “resolved and closed out.”
DID’s FOCUS articles cover major weapons acquisition programs – and no program is more important to the USAF than its aerial tanker fleet renewal. In January 2007, the big question was whether there would be a competition for the USA’s KC-X proposal, covering 175 production aircraft and 4 test platforms. The total cost is now estimated at $52 billion, but America’s aerial tanker fleet demands new planes to replace its KC-135s, whose most recent new delivery was in 1965. Otherwise, unpredictable age or fatigue issues, like the ones that grounded its F-15A-D fighters in 2008, could ground its aerial tankers – and with them, a substantial slice of the USA’s total airpower.
KC-Y and KC-Z buys are supposed to follow in subsequent decades, in order to replace 530 (195 active; ANG 251; Reserve 84) active tankers, as well as the USAF’s 59 heavy KC-10 tankers that were delivered from 1979-1987. Then again, fiscal and demographic realities may mean that the 179 plane KC-X buy is “it” for the USAF. Either way, the KC-X stakes were huge for all concerned.
In the end, it was Team Boeing’s KC-767 NexGen/ KC-46A (767 derivative) vs. EADS North America’s KC-45A (Airbus KC-30/A330-200 derivative), both within the Pentagon and in the halls of Congress. The financial and employment stakes guaranteed a huge political fight no matter which side won. After Airbus won in 2008, that fight ended up sinking and restarting the entire program. Three years later, Boeing won the recompete. Now, they have to deliver their KC-46A.
Boeing’s KC-46A, and Its Team
KC-46A Industrial Team
KC-X: The Program
The KC-46A Development Phase: Budgets, Splits, & Dates
The KC-46A Production Phase: Risks & Numbers
KC-46A Export Prospects
KC-X: Contracts & Key Developments
Appendix A: The KC-X Competitions
KC-X RFP v2.0 – The New Structure
Appendix B: The Contenders and The Cargo Factor – KC-30B, KC-767… KC-777?
Airbus’ A330/ KC-30/ KC-45
Boeing’s KC-767 Advanced/ KC-767 NewGen/ KC-46A
Boeing’s 777 Option
Appendix C: Airbus KC-30/ KC-45A Team
The USA’s Aerial Tanker Fleet
Related Studies and Reports
Ongoing News and Views
KC-X: The Competition
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