KC-46 Test Birds in Production

Boeing began work on its fourth KC-46A tanker, rounding out the next generation tanker test fleet, at its production facility at Everett, Wash., the company announced. “All four test aircraft are moving through production to support our transition to ground and flight testing later this year,” said company KC-46 Program Manager Maureen Dougherty. A stripped pre-production version of the aircraft—sans refueling equipment—is set to take to the skies for the first time this summer. The full-up KC-46A is slated for its maiden flight in early 2015, followed by delivery of the first production tanker to the Air Force in “early 2016,” states the release. Boeing says its program is on course to deliver the promised 18 tankers by 2017, with the possibility of supplying a total of 179 new-built tankers by 2027, if all contract options are realized.