Boeing has secured a $279m contract to deliver first KC-46 Pegasus multi-role tanker to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).

With the latest contract award, the JASDF becomes the first international customer to procure the KC-46 aircraft.

US Air Force Tanker Directorate programme executive officer brigadier general Donna Shipton said: “This is an important step in strengthening the US-Japan alliance and will enhance our interoperability with both nations flying KC-46s.”

The Boeing-built KC-46 tanker has been chosen by Japan through its KC-X aerial refuelling competition.

The KC-46 will be an addition to the JASDF’s current fleet of four KC-767J tankers.

The contract was awarded through the US foreign military sale process and also includes the delivery of KC-46 logistics support.

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Boeing Japan president Brett Gerry said: “This milestone order highlights a valued partnership with Japan that spans more than six decades, and we look forward to continuing that collaboration on the KC-46 programme.

“This is an important step in strengthening the US-Japan alliance and will enhance our interoperability with both nations flying KC-46s.”

“The skilled Japanese KC-767 tanker and E-767 airborne warning and control systems pilots and maintenance personnel are already familiar with flying and supporting our highly efficient aircraft, and we look forward to helping them expand their capabilities in the future.”

The KC-46 multi-role tanker is capable of refuelling all allied and coalition military aircraft that are compatible with international aerial refuelling procedures.

The tanker also features a main deck cargo door and strengthened cargo deck, and can carry passengers and patients.

The KC-46’s floor includes seat tracks and a cargo handling system that enables the aircraft to simultaneously carry palletised cargo, personnel, and aeromedical equipment in a variety of combinations.