Boeing Wins $1.6 Billion U.S. Air Force KC-46 Order

Credit: USAF

The U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing a $1.6 billion contract modification for 12 KC-46A tanker aircraft and anticipates the work will wrap up in April 2023.

The order for 12 aircraft is the sixth production lot, which means Boeing is now on contract for 79 KC-46As. The first KC-46 was delivered to the Air Force in January 2019. 

The funding for the Lot 6 deal is from the fiscal 2020 budget. The company is still awaiting a contract modification for 15 aircraft that are funded in fiscal 2021.

“The investments Boeing is making in the KC-46 today will benefit generations of service members,” Jamie Burgess, Boeing KC-46 tanker vice president and program manager, said in a Jan. 12 statement. “I believe the partnership between Boeing and the Air Force will also produce additional KC-46 innovations that will carry the warfighter well into the future.”

This year will mark a major decision point for the program because the Air Force expects to decide on a new projection method for the remote vision system (RVS), a technology akin to virtual or augmented reality. To correct a “rubber-sheeting” effect that distorts the image on a visual display used by the boom operator during refueling operations, the Air Force is considering a liquid-crystal display screen or a “collimated mirror design” for the RVS projection method.

Once a projection design is selected, a laboratory will build a system to test each new component. Doing ground testing will give the team confidence before installing the new equipment on the actual aircraft.