The Air Force bought 12 more KC-46s under a Jan. 12 contract awarded to Boeing for approximately $1.7 billion.
The award modification, the sixth production lot for the program, means Boeing is now on contract for 79 of the new tankers. So far, the company has delivered 42 KC-46s to four U.S. Air Force bases.
“The investments Boeing is making in the KC-46 today will benefit generations of service members,” said Jamie Burgess, Boeing KC-46 tanker vice president and program manager, in a press release. “I believe the partnership between Boeing and the Air Force will also produce additional KC-46 innovations that will carry the warfighter well into the future.”
The contract covers aircraft, subscriptions and licenses, and the G081 flat file aircraft maintenance database, according to the contract announcement. Work is expected to be completed April 30, 2023.
USAF plans to buy 179 of the KC-46s, though the program has been plagued by delays and issues with the aircraft’s remote vision system—a suite of cameras and sensors connecting the refueling boom with the operator inside the aircraft. The Air Force and Boeing are finalizing the design of the “2.0” version of RVS, which overhauls the system’s hardware and screens at the boom operator’s station to fix image clarity issues that have limited the aircraft’s test and evaluation process.
Under an April 2020 agreement, Boeing is expected to deliver 12 aircraft kits by 2023, and installation on the production line is expected to start in 2024.