Boeing KC-46

11th January 2022

Boeing KC-46 user+1@localho Tue, 01/11/2022 - 22:17

The Boeing KC-46A Pegasus is a U.S. air-refueling tanker based on the commercial Boeing 767 airliner. The aircraft will replace the KC-10 and partially replace the KC-135 in U.S. service. A total of 179 aircraft are on order for a total program cost of at least $44 billion with $34.9 billion in procurement and $6 billion in research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) funds. As of the time of this writing, the KC-46 has two foreign military sales (FMS) customers: Japan and Israel. As of the time of this writing, 52 KC-46As have been delivered to the U.S. Air Force and a single example has been delivered to Japan.

Program History

The KC-46 s genesis began from a 2001 U.S. Air Force (USAF) effort to lease 100 tankers to replace the service s oldest KC-135s. Northrop Grumman partnered with EADS (Airbus) to offer the KC-30 based upon the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) while Boeing offered a modified KC-767. The USAF awarded Boeing a $20 billion contract in 2003 but the program was suspended in December over allegations of misconduct on behalf of a senior USAF official charged with overseeing the program. The contract was ultimately canceled in 2005 and the USAF proceeded to completely restructure its tanker recapitalization strategy.

The Air Force published a tanker roadmap in 2006 that called for a three-step replacement for a then-combined fleet of over 500 Boeing KC-135 and KC-10 tankers. A KC-X contract award for the first 179 aircraft would be succeeded by a follow-on KC-Y contract 15-20 years later. Finally, a KC-Z, representing a purpose-built refueling system, would come last. In April 2006, the USAF completed an analysis of alternatives validating the plan. The initial request for proposals was released in January 2007.

Northrop Grumman paired with EADS to again offer an MRTT derivative (KC-45) while Boeing again offered a KC-767 derivative (KC-46). Airbus planned to open an MRTT modification and assembly line in Alabama as part of its proposal. The USAF selected Northrop s KC-45 in February 2008 but Boeing protested the award to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that March. The GAO sustained Boeing s protest in June 2008 stating, The Air Force, in making the award decision, did not assess the relative merits of the proposals in accordance with the evaluation criteria identified in the solicitation, which provided for a relative order of importance for the various technical requirements .