The Air Force and Boeing [BA] are working on ways to address multiple deficiencies in the KC-46 aerial refueling aircraft, but it’s appearing less and less likely that the service will get a next-generation tanker on the ramp by the end of 2018.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said Nov. 15 that the service met with Boeing that same day to work through “a couple major deficiencies.” The company has experienced issues with the remote vision system that enables operators to survey the boom on a screen rather than through a window, and a problem with the refueling boom sensing when it needs to disconnect from the receiver aircraft.
The company recently disclosed $176 million in new charges on the fixed-price tanker program related to cost overruns and schedule delays (Defense Daily, Oct. 24).
“There’s some problems with that and we’ve got to figure out how to they’re going to get that fixed,” Wilson said at the Defense One Summit in Washington, D.C. “They are working on that today, trying to work through what’s the path forward so that we can get the tanker on the ramp.”
When asked whether the tanker can be delivered before the end of this calendar year, Wilson said: “We will work through with Boeing to get the equipment that works.” In September, newly installed Air Mobility Command Commander Gen. Maryanne Miller told reporters the target delivery date was Oct. 27, which was itself already one of many schedule slips to get the next-generation tanker into the fleet. Boeing did not return a request for comment by Defense Daily's deadline Thursday.
In October, documents on FedBizOpps appeared to show that the Air Force was planning for a KC-46 delivery ceremony on Nov. 16. (Defense Daily, Oct. 22)