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AF: Boeing KC-46 tanker on track

Sep. 17, 2013 - 03:49PM   |  
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Boeing should be able to meet the cost and schedule terms of the Air Force’s KC-46 aerial tanker program, the general in charge of the much-watched effort said.

“Right now, based on this year’s government schedule risk assessment, it looks like with greater than a 90 percent probability the Boeing team will deliver the 18 tankers by 2017 as laid out in the contract,” Maj. Gen. John Thompson, Air Force program executive officer for tankers, said during a Tuesday briefing at the Air Force Association’s annual convention in suburban Washington.

Boeing has met most of its contractual requirements early and is about 40 percent finished with the tanker’s development program, Thompson said.

The Air Force selected the Boeing 767-based tanker over an EADS A330 rival in February 2011. The contract for 179 of the aircraft is valued at $35 billion.

Low-rate initial production is scheduled to begin in 2015. Production is scheduled to ramp up to 15 tankers per year in 2017 and is expected to run though 2017, Thompson said.

“[The] bottom line from the operational assessment that was published in May is that from an effectivity, suitability and mission-accomplishment standpoint, the KC-46 is on track,” Thompson said.

Unlike many Pentagon procurement programs, the KC-46 program has remained on track despite sequestration cuts.

“From a funding perspective as the No. 1 modernization program in the United States Air Force, the people in the Department of Defense, the people in the Department of the Air Force [and] the people over on the Hill that gave us the flexibilities that we needed, took care of us,” Thompson said.

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