Boeing will likely push delivery of the US Air Force’s first KC-46 air-to-air refueling tanker to early 2018 from this year, as various problems have emerged during flight tests.
In May, KC-46 program manager Mike Gibbons said the first tanker would fly around October 2017 and soon after would be delivered to the Air Force. Boeing had committed to hand over the first 18 operational tankers to the Air Force by February 2018.
However, the tanker has missed flight testing and certification milestone. In addition, Boeing has witnessed instances of the extendable fuel boom scraping against the receiver aircraft, as well as two other category one deficiencies, according to online defense industry magazine Breaking Defense.
At an Air Force Association (AFA) conference near Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Air Force Gen. Carlton Everhart, the head of Air Mobility Command, was quoted as saying that he’s now hoping for first delivery in “early 2018”.
The paint scraping problem — formally known as “undetected contact” — by itself could “possibly” delay the new planes’ arrival at AMC, Gen Everhart said.
The other two deficiencies detailed by Lt. Gen. Bunch, the military deputy for Air Force acquisition, are “HF transmit turning off when we go into the refueling area” and “uncommanded boom extension” which appears to mean that the boom unexpectedly extends after it’s been withdrawn from the other aircraft.