Can KC-46 Rely on Streamlined Testing Plan?


With Boeing up to $700 million in the hole to complete the Boeing KC-46A development as planned in 2017 (according to USAF estimates), a large part of the success of the effort will rely on a new strategy to streamline testing and certification. 

Maj. Gen. John Thompson, program executive officer for tankers, is set to brief conference attendees on the status of the KC-135 replacement program tomorrow, Sept. 17. But, the service gave Av Week an exclusive interview in advance of the event.

The military services have started to attempt to share testing points against development and operational tests alike so as not to waste time and money duplicating certain conditions to satisfy both. Thompson, however, describes the program to get the baseline platform -- the new 767-2C -- certified as well as the KC-46A tanker version. 

The service wrapped up the critical design review for the program a month ahead of time. This is, perhaps, an indicator that the USAF's strategy of using a fixed-price, incentive-fee contract for the work is motivating Boeing to aggressively manage risk and execute contract milestones. 

The Air Force is starting work on a plan to establish blue-suit maintenance for the tanker alongside initial operational capability, which includes the first 18 tankers to be delivered in 2017. 

The 767-2C is set for first flight in June of next year with the first tanker flight in January of 2015.

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