Boeing Awarded KC-46A Upgrade Contract


The U.S. Air Force has awarded a $184 million contract to Boeing to improve the communications capabilities of its KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft. According to Boeing, upgrades will include line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight communications technologies with antijamming and encryption features. The first KC-46As were delivered to the Air Force in 2019.

“This upgrade demonstrates long-term investment from Boeing and the Air Force,” said James Burgess, Boeing vice president and KC-46 program manager. “The KC-46A is built to integrate cutting-edge capabilities directly into the DNA of the aircraft as the needs of the mission evolve.”

To date, Boeing has delivered 69 KC-46A tankers to the Air Force of a contracted 128. The model, which is manufactured on Boeing’s 767 production line in Everett, Washington, was approved for global combat operations in 2022. As previously reported by AVweb, the KC-46A has struggled with a series of issues including defective cargo locks and issues with its remote-vision system and refueling boom.

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. They started deliveries in 2019 and the communications system needs to be upgraded? You’ve got to love Boeing.

  2. Deliveries in 2019 maybe, but when was the design frozen? Probably much earlier. Avionics don’t last as long as the rest of the design, so I’m not surprised some new gear is needed on a semi-routine basis. But that said, geez, $1.4 million per airplane? That’s quite the price tag for some radio equipment.

  3. Maybe these “upgrades” will let it (finally) meet the original specs? Also, maybe we can opt out of the “free” tool “surprises” left in the airframes this time?