GKN Aerospace to develop exhaust system for USAF's KC-46A tanker


KC-46A tanker

Boeing has awarded a long-term contract to GKN Aerospace for the supply of exhaust systems to the US Air Force's (USAF) KC-46 tanker aircraft programme.

GKN Aerospace North America CEO Kevin Cummings said the contract further extends the company's established relationship with Boeing into the next generation USAF tanker programme.

''We work closely with Boeing, providing structural airframe components and assemblies, winglets, transparencies and ice protection systems for aircraft across their product portfolio,'' Cummings added.

Under the terms of the contract, GKN Aerospace will manufacture the system by using its patented resistance-welded honeycomb panel technology, which neutralises the problem of voids, frequent with brazed processes.

Developed primarily to interpret challenges in the exhaust environment, the technology generates a lightweight stainless steel structure that features exceptional strength and durability, thereby extending engine performance and causing noise reduction.

"The system's manufacture and assembly will be conducted at the GKN ASTECH facility in Santa Ana, California, US, with the first deliveries scheduled to begin in 2013 and continue through to the end of 2028."

Featuring a complex acoustic nozzle and plug assembly, the exhaust system has provided enhanced performance throughout its service aboard the Boeing 767 jet airliner and several variants of the 747 commercial airliner and cargo transport aircraft.

The system's manufacture and assembly will be conducted at the GKN ASTECH facility in Santa Ana, California, US, with the first deliveries scheduled to begin in 2013 and continue through to the end of 2028.

Developed from the Boeing 767-200ER, the KC-46 is a military aerial refuelling and strategic transport aircraft, designed to replace the USAF's ageing fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers, which served as its primary refuelling aircraft for more than 50 years.

Boeing is under contract with USAF to deliver 18 KC-46 refuelling aircraft by 2017, as part of the KC-135 replacement programme.

Deliveries will continue until 2028 and the initial flight of the first aircraft is scheduled to take place in late 2014.


Image: A KC-46A tanker refuelling a B-2 Spirit bomber aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Boeing.