EVERETT, Wash. – Boeing [BA] expects to receive a U.S. Air Force contract later this year to begin developing future upgrades for the new KC-46A Pegasus tanker, according to a company program official.
The contract will allow the program to do things that are not required under the existing tanker development contract that the Air Force awarded Boeing in 2011, said Mike Gibbons, Boeing's KC-46 vice president and program manager.
The new contract will call for “road-mapping what a next of set capabilities would be, and then actually doing the development of those next capabilities,” Gibbons said May 3 during a media tour of Boeing’s tanker modification factory here.
The “flexible” contract will allow the Air Force to put out specific orders, Gibbons added. “We don’t actually do any work until they tell us specifically what they’re authorizing to do.”
The Air Force’s fiscal year 2019 budget request includes $13.5 million to begin “Pegasus capabilities improvements.” Specific activities would include communication avionics upgrades and studies on “future initiatives for upgrades,” the document says.
Boeing is slated to build 179 KC-46As for the Air Force to replace aging tankers. Deliveries might begin later this year.