The US Air Force has awarded Boeing a $3.1 billion contract for the delivery of KC-46A Pegasus tankers to the air forces of the United States and Israel.
The $2.2 billion contract for the US Air Force will see the company deliver 15 Lot 8 tankers by November 2025.
Boeing received the contract modification after the service cleared the tanker to fulfill 97 percent of all air refueling demands in June this year in a gradual introduction of missions for the new tanker dubbed interim capability releases.
The KC-46 multirole tanker is derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, and can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.
The KC-46 tanker is among the Air Force’s highest acquisition priorities as it is intended to replace one-third of the aging aerial refueling tanker fleet. Aerial refueling—the transfer of fuel from airborne tankers to combat and airlift forces while in flight—is critical to the US military’s ability to operate globally.
The Air Force and Boeing are currently addressing several critical deficiencies that are delaying use of KC-46’s full aerial refueling capabilities. Two of these deficiencies relate to the aircraft’s remote vision system (RVS). The system’s cameras and display allow operators to observe and reposition the boom—a rigid telescope that delivers fuel to the receiver aircraft. The RVS currently cannot be used to perform all aerial refueling missions because it does not work in changing lighting conditions.
The $927.5 million contract for the delivery of four KC-46A tankers to Israel comes after the US state department approved the possible foreign military sale of up to eight of the aerial refuelers to Israel for an estimated $2.4 billion in March 2020.
Boeing is expected to complete deliveries of the Israeli airframes by December 2026.
In addition to Israel and the US, the KC-46A has been bought by Japan, who received the first airframe in November 2021. The US Air Force awarded Boeing a foreign military sale contract for the first Japan Air Self Defence Force KC-46A in December 2017, while further contract options brought the total number of the tanker on order for Japan to four.