Boeing Co. has been awarded a firm-fixed-price contract modification, worth around $342 million, for Japan’s third and fourth KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling tanker aircraft.
A statement released by the Pentagon said that “this modification provides for the exercise of an option for an additional quantity of two KC-46A Japan aircraft being produced under the basic contract”.
The contract modification was awarded by the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio bringing the total cumulative face value of the contract to around $800 million. The work under the modification will be performed in Seattle and is expected to be completed by June 30, 2023.
Japan chose Boeing’s KC-46 tanker over competitors following its KC-X aerial refueling competition. The KC-46 adds to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF)’s current fleet of four KC-767J aerial refueling tankers.
The initial contract FA8609-18-F-0006, worth $279 million, for Japan’s first KC-46A aircraft was signed in December 2017 marking the aircraft’s first international sale. The option for the second aircraft was exercised in December 2018.
Boeing began assembling Japan’s first next-generation tanker in September last year with the loading a 82.4-foot (25 meters) long wing spar in the company’s 767 production facility in Everett, Washington. KC-46s destined for its original customer, the U.S. Air Force, are also assembled at the Everett facility. Following initial assembly, workers install the tanker’s military unique systems at the site’s Modification Center. The jets are then flight tested at Boeing Field prior to delivery.
The KC-46 will be a force multiplier in the U.S.-Japanese defense alliance, certified to refuel all U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and JASDF aircraft safely and efficiently. Built to carry passengers, cargo and patients, it will be easier to maintain than previous tankers, improving reliability and lowering life-cycle costs.
Boeing KC-46A Pegasus
Boeing KC-46A Pegasus is a military aerial refueling and strategic military transport aircraft developed by Boeing from its 767-2C widebody jet airliner. Boeing has delivered more than 1,150 767s worldwide and is in service as an airliner and freighter.
In February 2011, the KC-46 tanker was selected by the U.S. Air Force as the winner in the KC-X tanker competition to replace its older KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft. KC-46A has a maximum takeoff weight of 415,000 pounds and a maximum cargo capacity of 65,000 pounds. The tanker has a wingspan of 157 feet, 8 inches.
The aircraft can refuel all U.S., allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures. It is equipped with boom and hose and drogue systems. The boom allows the tanker to transfer up to 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute, while the hose and drogue systems, located on both the plane’s wing and centerline, enables the KC-46 to refuel smaller aircraft with up to 400 gallons of fuel per minute.
Boeing designed the KC-46 to also carry passengers, cargo and patients. The aircraft has 15 permanent seats for aircrew and can carry up to 114 total passengers in contingency operations.
The aircraft can detect, avoid, defeat and survive threats using multiple layers of protection, which will enable it to operate safely in medium-threat environments.
The first KC-46 aircraft was delivered to the U.S. Air Force in January 2019. The Air Force intends to procure 179 Pegasus aircraft by 2027.