Boeing Awarded Contract For 15 More KC-46A Tankers


The U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing a $2.3 billion contract for 15 additional KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft. Boeing delivered the first KC-46As to the Air Force in 2019 and the aircraft was approved for global operations last year. According to Boeing, 128 Pegasus tankers are currently on contract with the Air Force with 68 delivered so far.

“The combat-ready KC-46A is transforming the role of the tanker for the 21st century,” said James Burgess, Boeing vice president and KC-46 program manager. “We’re proud to work side-by-side with the Air Force ensuring the Pegasus provides unmatched capabilities and continues to evolve for the U.S. and its allies’ global mission needs.”

Designed as a multi-mission aerial refueler, the KC-46A can also be used for cargo, personnel and aeromedical transportation. The aircraft is powered by Pratt & Whitney PW 4062 engines and has a fuel capacity of 212,299 pounds. As previously reported by AVweb, the model struggled with a series of issues including problems with its remote-vision system and the refueling boom as well as defective cargo locks.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. The old tanker’s boom worked fine and the remote viewing system(window) did also. So why did Boeing start over with untested ideas? The original Kc-135s were about $1million each and only lasted 60 years.

    • Boeing didn’t. The Air Force wanted a system that caused less fatigue in the boom operators since the fuel offload capabilities of this aircraft were much higher than the KC-135. Also an aft facing copula, unlike the KC-135, wasn’t designed into the 767, so the structure and pressure vessel to make one were not there.

      So the AF specified a camera system. Boeing’s prototype seemed OK until flight testing started. Then several spacial, glare, contrast issues and frame rate issues were identified. That lead to a redesign of the system.

      The boom itself was GFE from the AF, and it had some serious design issues itself; it bent some airplane skins and the attached camera system had spacial issues too.

  2. Let’s hope they can keep the rags, tools, lost hardware and all other kinds of FOD out of the wings. This has been an embarrassment for Boeing along with all the other embarrassments…

  3. If you give Boeing enough time and tax dollars they can perfect just about any airplane design. Are the next batch going to be set up for possible single pilot operations as reported previously?

  4. While it’s nice to see a relative of the 767 still in production, I think the 777 would be a much better airframe to use as a template for a new AF refueler. The 777 is a rock solid airplane that can carry more fuel and has much greater range. It would be a great tanker, assuming Boeing didn’t screw it up.