Pentagon’s Top Tester Concerned About KC-46 Test Program

The Air Force’s test program for the KC-46A tanker “is not executable” in its present form, states Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, in his office’s Fiscal 2011 annual report. Gilmore cite deficiencies in the KC-46 test and evaluation master plan. For example, the Air Force’s proposed military flight hours per aircraft per month “exceed the historical averages” of other test programs for large military aircraft, states the report. Further, operational testing may require about twice as long as the four months allotted in the TEMP, it states. As a result, Gilmore calls on the Air Force to “provide a TEMP that contains a realistic schedule using historical military flight test parameters.” An Air Force spokeswoman told the Daily Report that the service respectfully “does not agree” with the DOT&E’s assessment. The KC-46 test plan “is comparable to other commercial-derivative test programs, such as the KC-10, and in line with [Federal Aviation Administration] testing efficiencies,” she said. The Air Force selected Boeing last February to supply the KC-46, so this is the first time that Gilmore’s office has assessed the KC-46A program in the annual report. (DOT&E report webpage)