Apr 8, 2014

KC-46A development passes halfway point

Development of the Air Force’s KC-46A tanker is about 57 percent complete, with the first flight of the test aircraft planned for this summer.
The schedule announcement comes as the KC-46A program faces increased costs for the contractor.
The Air Force has scheduled the first flight of the 767 derivative this summer.
The plane is in the factory and set to go through ground testing, such as vibration tests to ensure its stability.
The second aircraft will move from the factory in Everett, Wash., to a Boeing facility in Seattle for finishing, including the installation of the refueling boom and other military-specific equipment such as the boom operator’s station before heading to the flight test program in January.
Production on the first aircraft has encountered setbacks, including problems with the aircraft’s electrical wiring systems.
In March, the Air Force estimated that the development for the aircraft will be about $1.1 billion over budget.
The January 2015 test flight of the KC-46A is about 18 months after its critical design review, which was released in July 2013.
Additionally, the program said software-related issues are a risk with the system in concurrent testing and production, similar to problems that have delayed the F-35 program.
The KC-46A development comes at a time of uncertainty over the future of the Air Force’s tanker fleet. While the Pegasus is planned to replace the KC-135 Stratotanker fleet, the service has said that if sequestration continues, it will be forced to divest the entire fleet of 59 KC-10 Extenders.

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