World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


The US Air Force takes delivery of long awaited KC-46A

The United States Air Force announced that it accepted to receive its first KC-46A Pegasus tanker from Boeing on January 10, 2019, more than a year after due date. But it might take a bit longer to see it in action.

The KC-46A is set to replace another Boeing aircraft, the KC-135 Stratotanker, in service within the USAF since 1957. The long awaited refueling platform has been delayed more than a few times, due to delays in flight tests and technical failures.

The initial contract was signed in 2011, following the KC-X tender. It specified that the first aircraft would be delivered around May 2016, and the following 17 by 2017. But soon after, things became hectic. Technical deficiencies in the fuel distribution, delays in the certifications eventually costed the manufacturer more than $3 billion in cost overruns, sparking some criticism within both the Pentagon and the Congress. In an address to the latter in March 2018, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said: “One of our frustrations with Boeing is they’re much more focused on their commercial activity than on getting this right for the Air Force and getting these aircraft to the Air Force.“ Despite that, Boeing postponed the due date one last time, from October 2018 to this day, a delay that could cost the manufacturer $4.5 billion.

More aircraft should soon follow this first delivery according to Boeing: four KC-46s are ready to be sent to McConnell Air Force Base, and four more should arrive in Oklahoma’s Altus Air Force Base, starting next month. “This is an exciting and historic day for the Air Force and Boeing, as we hand over the first of many KC-46 tankers,” said Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg.

“This is a major milestone for the next generation tanker and will allow Airmen to begin operational testing and flight training,” declared the USAF in its official statement. However, this long story may last a little bit longer, as the military already identified some problems on the first aircraft. Fortunately, “Boeing has agreed to fix at its expense, deficiencies discovered in developmental testing of the remote vision system,” the USAF clarified.

This “Remove Vision System” (RVS), developed by Rockwell Collins, is composed of several sensors and cameras that should help the boom operator during aerial refueling. However, it seems that the system does not work as intended, especially under certain light conditions according to Breaking Defense. Fixing the RVS could take Boeing a few more years.

Those years may give enough time to Airbus and Lockheed Martin to materialize their partnership, and to offer a leasing service to the USAF, using the more “battle-tested” A330 MRTT.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


The Gili Islands: A Community Earthquake Recovery Effort

Joseph Cederwall travelled to the Gili Islands in October 2018 to talk to locals about their experiences of the event and witness the impact and the rebuild efforts on this unique ecotourism destination. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Ongoing Carnage In Gaza

The past month has devoted a lot of space to the best music and films of 2018, and far less to the past year’s human rights violations. The under-reporting on the ongoing carnage in Gaza has been a case in point. More>>


New Report: Refugees In PNG Being Pushed To The Brink
Refugee Council of Australia and Amnesty International paint a stark picture of a traumatised refugee population hit hard by Australia's recent healthcare and counselling service cuts, as well as continued threats to their safety. More>>


Deal On Paris Implementation: Rapid Action Urged At Climate Change Conference

Following a year of devastating climate disasters around the globe, from California to Kerala, and Tonga to Japan, the annual UN Climate Change Conference opens with the goal of finalising the implementation guidelines for the Paris Climate Change Agreement. More>>