The U.S. Air Force foresees a delay of 19 months in fielding the Remote Vision System 2.0 (RVS 2.0) for the Boeing [BA] KC-46A Pegasus tanker.

“After thoroughly evaluating all the data and assumptions that went in to the current RVS 2.0 schedule during a Program Management Review (PMR) last week, the joint team determined that an additional 19 months will be required to achieve an Operational Military Flight Release (MFR) for the RVS 2.0 upgrade, resulting in fleet release being delayed from March 2024 to October 2025,” the service said on Oct. 7.  “This change in schedule is primarily driven by sub-contractor development timelines, but also includes updates related to FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] airworthiness process alignment, and USAF airworthiness policy/process integration.”

At the Air & Space Forces Association annual conference last month, Air Force acquisition chief Andrew Hunter predicted that the delay would be less than a year due to findings in the KC-46A Critical Design Review (Defense Daily, Sept. 20).

In 2020, the Air Force said that its goal was to field RVS 2.0–with 4K color cameras, operator stations with larger screens, a laser ranger for refueling aircraft distance measurement and boom assistance augmented reality by 2023.

Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan, the AMC commander, has said that work on the updated RVS 2.0, which is expected to improve the system’s depth perception, will help address some of the current flight restrictions on the KC-46.

“There are some angles and certain weather phenomena that challenge the RVS. So when we know that’s going to occur we line up the angles differently. That would be an example of what the crews are dealing with. RVS 2.0 will fix that. I’m confident,” Minihan said.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) has not responded to questions on Sept. 21 on any specific technical issues behind the predicted RVS 2.0 delay; specific lighting and weather conditions under which the refueling boom is liable to scrape paint off aircraft being refueled; and whether the Air Force is considering buying Airbus A330 tankers that have not had remote vision system refueling problems.

“Our defense industrial base continues to face supply chain issues and we’re seeing effects in the acquisition schedules of technically complex systems, such as the KC-46 Remote Visual System 2.0,” Hunter said in the Oct. 7 Air Force statement. “We’ll continue to examine possible opportunities to accelerate the schedule to bring this increased operational capability to the tanker fleet.”