The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has issued a Letter of Request (LOR) for three Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling tankers, Defense News reported citing Boeing officials.
According to the report, Jeff Shockey, VP of Global Sales for Defense, Space and Security at Boeing, confirmed the development while speaking to reporters at a media event on the sidelines of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue regional security summit in Singapore.
The UAE’s request to procure KC-46A tankers is a surprise as it currently operates three Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (A330 MRTT) aircraft, KC-46’s main rival in global market.
KC-46’s main operator is the U.S. Air Force which took delivery of the first aircraft earlier this year. Boeing plans to build 179 of the refueling aircraft for the Air Force to replace its legacy KC-135 Stratotanker fleet.
The aircraft is also ordered by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), making it the aircraft’s first international customer. The $279 million contract for the first aircraft and logistics support was awarded to Boeing in 2017 under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program and the $159 million contract modification for the second aircraft was awarded in 2018.
Several other countries are also interested in the aircraft such as Indonesia, Israel, Norway, Qatar and NATO, according to Defense News.
The KC-46, derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, is a multirole tanker designed to refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients. The first flight of the fully-provisioned KC-46 tanker took place in September 2015.
Boeing is assembling KC-46 aircraft at its Everett, Wash., facility.