Air Force, Boeing Grappling With Boom Glitches On KC-46A Tanker

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Engineers are trying to fix two refueling-boom glitches on the KC-46A Pegasus tanker that Boeing [BA] is developing for the U.S. Air Force, a service official said Sept. 19.

One problem involves the boom making unintended contact with the receiving aircraft outside the boom receptacle, said Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, military deputy for the Air Force acquisition office. The other involves the boom making an “un-commanded” extension once it is removed from the receptacle.

A KC-46 refuels an A-10 during testing. Photo: Air Force.

A KC-46 refuels an A-10 during testing. Photo: Air Force.

It was not immediately clear how the glitches would affect the program’s schedule.

The Air Force indicated in June that it expected to receive its first KC-46A in late-spring 2018, months later than the December delivery that Boeing has projected (Defense Daily, June 8). The Air Force attributed that delay to slow progress in flight testing and Federal Aviation Administration certification.

Bunch, who spoke at a media roundtable at the Air Force Association's Air, Space & Cyber Conference, said the KC-46A has completed more than 60 percent of its developmental testing. The Air Force plans to buy 179 KC-46As to begin to replace its aging tankers.

In a statement, Boeing spokeswoman Caroline Hutcheson said that "we continue to make progress" on the KC-46A.

"We have six airplanes in flight test that are performing well, and more than 30 flowing through  production," Hutcheson said. "This is a development program and we still have a significant amount of work in front of us to complete certification testing and other activities. While there is near-term pressure, our team remains focused on meeting the customer requirement to deliver [the first] 18 tankers to the Air Force in 2018."





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