The U.S. Air Force said it learned that two of the plane’s systems in its KC-46A tanker program — the Centerline Drogue System (CDS) and the Remote Vision System (RVS) — are not yet meeting performance requirements.
The CDS is a hose-and-drogue refueling system attached to the belly of the fuselage. The RVS is a camera that allows the operator to determine whether the CDS or the refueling boom is working properly.
The program office was notified of the CDS and RVS deficiencies last week, and the Air Force is working with prime contractor Boeing to fix them, according to an Air Force statement Wednesday.
“Flight testing will continue to collect performance data on these two deficiencies,” the statement said. “The Air Force and Boeing team will continue to make refinements to address these issues.”
Boeing said the company has developed a software update to improve the visibility provided by the RVS. Flight-testing of the update is to begin this month.
Boeing is also tweaking the CDS to address what the Air Force described as “unintentional receiver aircraft disconnects from the CDS.”
Air Force acquisition chief William Roper told the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower and projection forces panel March 14 that he is closely following efforts to fix the problems to ensure they do not delay the program. A delay could affect KC-46A training and how long the service needs to keep the aging KC-10s and KC-135s that the new tanker is supposed to replace.
“If these new deficiencies are not retired quickly, then it’s going to make me be very concerned about hitting our delivery date this year,” Roper testified. “This is a very critical year for the tanker.”