Boeing has secured up its first international customer for the KC-46A Pegasus tanker, with the announcement that Japan has signed for the second of four Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft it plans to field from 2020. A Foreign Military Sale (FMS) contract for a single aircraft for Japan was announced by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on 6 December, following the award of the first aircraft in December 2017. Japan selected the KC-46A under its KC-X aerial refuelling competition in October 2015. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) is looking to acquire four new tankers to augment its current fleet of four Boeing KC-767J platforms. The sale of four KC-46As to Japan was approved by the US government in September 2016. The total value was given at that time as USD1.9 billion. While the latest contract announcement did not provide a delivery timeline, the earlier KC-X announcement called for the first aircraft to be received by the JASDF in 2020.
The Boeing Co., Seattle, Washington, has been awarded a $158,950,309 firm-fixed-price modification (P00003) to contract FA8609-18-F-0006 for one KC-46A Japan aircraft. This modification provides for the exercise of an option for an additional quantity of one aircraft being produced under the basic contract. Work will be performed in Seattle and is expected to be completed by June 30, 2021. While that first award included support and was valued at USD279 million, this latest contract is for the aircraft only and is valued at USD159 million. This modification involves foreign military sales to Japan. Total cumulative face value of the contract is $449,375,855. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity.
The KC-46 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. Boeing began developing the KC-46A Pegasus tanker for the U.S. Air Force in 2011 and is assembling the 767-derivative aircraft at its Everett, Wash., facility. First flight of the fully-provisioned KC-46 tanker took place in September 2015. Six test aircraft have now completed more than 2,200 flight hours and conducted refueling flights with F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10, KC-10 and KC-46 aircraft. Boeing’s KC-46 tanker program has completed its planned Phase II receiver certification flight testing following three weeks of flights with F-15E aircraft out of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Phase III receiver certification testing will be conducted by the Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base in 2019. That testing will include additional receiver aircraft. Boeing is currently on contract for the first 52 of an expected 179 tankers for the U.S. Air Force.
In addition to refueling, the KC-46 features a main deck cargo door and strengthened cargo deck. The floor includes seat tracks and a cargo handling system, allowing for a variety of mission configurations. The system enables KC-46 to simultaneously carry palletized cargo, personnel and aeromedical equipment in a variety of combinations. The highly reliable 767 derivative will also deliver tremendous savings through lower lifecycle costs compared to other larger or used aircraft. Sixteen percent of the 767 airplane, on which the KC-46 tanker is based, is made with Japan. The Boeing-Japan relationship grows and expands with partnership opportunities in the space, commercial and defense businesses, continuing a legacy that spans more than 60 years. Boeing currently spends more than $5 billion annually in Japan, making the country the largest supply base for Boeing outside the United States. Boeing opened its first office in Japan in 1953 and now has approximately 200 employees at more than 20 major sites across the country.