Boeing’s KC-46A has officially completed all flight tests needed ahead of a milestone decision this August while Boeing’s costs increased by almost $400 million.
On July 15, a KC-46A tanker successfully refueled an A-10 Warthog completing all flight tests for the new tanker. This final step allows for the Department of Defense to reach a Milestone C decision for low rate initial production.
“Today’s flight marks the final step we needed to see on the boom fix in order to request production go-ahead,” Brig. Gen. Duke Richardson, Air Force program executive officer for tankers, said in a statement. “Our joint team’s tireless efforts are paying off, preparing us for the next step of this critical need to our warfighter.”
The KC-46A has the ability to use a boom for refueling USAF aircraft and a drogue system for USN and USMC aircraft. The new tanker had run into problems with its refueling boom, particularly when it was trying to refuel larger aircraft such as the C-17 Globemaster. This required Boeing to rework the boom in an effort to better control fuel flow when larger aircraft were hooked up.
While it appears that the boom problem has been solved, the unfortunate part of the rework is a three month delay in the Milestone C decision (June to now August) and an increase in cost.
The good news for the tax payer is Boeing signed a fixed price contract for the tanker. Any additional cost beyond the funded $4.9 billion development cost will be incurred by Boeing itself.
Boeing has already racked up $1.5 billion in cost overruns on the tanker. This latest delay will cost the company an additional $393 million after-tax-charge. The total value of penalties on Boeing is now expected to be around $1.9 billion.
Top Photo: (Photo: John D. Parker, Chase Pilot)