The delivery of the US Air Force’s (USAF) first Boeing-built KC-46 Pegasus aerial refuelling and strategic military transport aircraft has been delayed from March to August 2017.
The decision follows after the USAF released a statement to move the formal production decision on the KC-46 tanker programme, also known as Milestone C, from June to August 2016.
The move is necessary to address refuelling boom loads issues that were detected during test flights conducted this year.
The delay in delivery is also due to complexities related to qualification and certification of the aircraft’s centerline drogue and wing-aerial refuelling pod (WARP) systems, and a higher volume of change incorporation to bring the first 18 aircraft up to the certification configuration.
As per the updated expected timing for delivery, the 18th aircraft is scheduled to be handed over in January 2018.
With the underlying production system remaining on schedule, Boeing will have more than 18 aircraft through the factory line and in various stages of final change incorporation and certification by August 2017.
The first 18 aircraft will feature refuelling boom and centerline drogue refuelling capabilities and other contract required capabilities except WARPs.
The WARP systems will be required to comply with the full contractual required assets available and will be delivered separately in October 2018.
Designed to replace the USAF’s ageing KC-135 Stratotankers fleet, KC-46 has been developed from Boeing 767-200ER.
Boeing is under contract to deliver a total of 179 KC-46s to the USAF by 2028.
Image: Boeing’s KC-46A prototype during a test flight. Photo: courtesy of Ken Fielding.