The Air Force’s KC-46A Pegasus aircraft is still months away from renewing cargo transport in test flights as industry and service officials work through potential solutions for unstable cargo pallet locks, the service’s chief acquisition leader said Nov. 12.
Air Force Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Will Roper said the service and prime contractor Boeing [BA] have been hard at work developing solutions for the latest Category-1 deficiency on the program, which was first revealed by Defense News in September and prompted a fierce warning from Air Mobility Command Commander Gen. Maryanne Miller (Defense Daily, Sept. 18).
The lock issue has been identified, Roper confirmed in a Tuesday event sponsored by the Defense Writers Group in Washington, D.C. The service is “working options” with Boeing and its supplier, he added. “We’re looking at our operators to tell us which one of the solutions that have been identified is the one that they would prefer,” he said.
Boeing confirmed in a Tuesday statement that a solution had been found.
“The Boeing/Air Force team have successfully tested a cargo lock retrofit that prevents the lock from beginning to disengage,” said Larry Chambers, a company spokesman, in an email to Defense Daily. “The retrofit has already flown on the tanker during testing and meets all requirements. Boeing is prepared to support the cargo lock retrofit as soon as the Air Force is ready to proceed.”
Roper said he was confident that the issue would be fully resolved, and emphasized that such developments are why the military conducts operational testing and evaluation in the first place.
“You would not find something like that if you weren’t actually flying cargo,” he said. Meanwhile, he continues to focus on resolving longstanding Category-1 deficiencies on the KC-46 impacting the Remote Vision System (RVS) in development by Boeing, and a boom redesign that is being paid for by the Air Force.
Boeing has delivered 24 tankers to the Air Force to date, Chambers said. Sixteen aircraft have been flown to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas since deliveries started in January, with five to going to Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, and two to Pease Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire.