is launching production of its next-generation aerial refueling tanker after passing a critical design review earlier this summer, a top U.S. Air Force
official said Thursday.
(A computer rendering of Boeing's KC-46A refueling tanker. Photo, courtesy of Boeing.
Assembly of the first two KC-46As is under way as part of the military's $52 billion project to replace its current fleet of KC-135 refueling tankers. Based on
the commercial 767-200ER airframe, the KC-46A can carry twice as many passengers as the KC-135 and is equipped with Boeing 787 cockpit avionics.
"I'm pleased to report that the design of the KC-46A tanker has been locked down," said John Thompson, program executive officer for the U.S. Air Force Office of Tankers.
If the Air Force exercises all options from a contract signed with Boeing in 2011, the company will deliver a total of 179 tankers with the first 18 scheduled for delivery by 2017.