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Boeing has received a $1.7bn contract to deliver 12 additional KC-46A tanker aircraft to the US Air Force (USAF).

The new order represents the sixth production lot and increases the total number of aircraft ordered by the USAF to 79 KC-46A tankers.

According to the website, the KC-46A Pegasus is a wide-body, multirole tanker capable of refuelling all US, allied and coalition military aircraft that are compatible with international aerial refuelling procedures.

The aircraft can transport passengers, cargo and patients, as well as uses multiple layers of protection to operate in medium-threat environments.

The addition of these new tanker aircraft is expected to improve the USAF’s operational flexibility.

Boeing KC-46 tanker vice-president and programme manager Jamie Burgess said: “The investments Boeing is making in the KC-46 today will benefit generations of service members.

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“I believe the partnership between Boeing and the airforce will also produce additional KC-46 innovations that will carry the warfighter well into the future.”

The USAF awarded the first two production lots to Boeing for seven and 12 aircraft respectively in August 2016.

The third lot for 15 units was awarded in January 2017 followed by the fourth lot for 18 aircraft in September 2018. Boeing received the fifth production lot for 15 aircraft in September 2019.

The company delivered the first KC-46A to the USAF in January 2019 and since then has supplied 42 units to four different bases.

In November, Boeing received an order to provide third and fourth KC-46 tanker to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).