EVERETT — The Pentagon has approved Boeing’s KC-46 refueling tanker for production, a key point known as Milestone C in the military plane’s development timeline.
The KC-46 is based on Boeing’s 767 freighter. Both planes are assembled at the company’s Everett plant.
Despite being based on a proven commercial airplane, the tanker’s development was dogged with several design and supply chain problems. But even with the well-publicized and costly delays, Boeing expects to deliver the first batch of combat-ready tankers to the Air Force by January 2018, only five months later than originally planned.
“The KC-46 is ready to take the next step,” said Gen. Dave Goldfein, Air Force Chief of Staff. “Our Air Force and Boeing team stepped up to meet the recent challenges. I’m especially proud of the employees on the floor of the Boeing plant and employees of all our industry partners, who work every day to deliver game-changing capability to the warfighter. My hat’s off to them and our program leads.”
The Air Force is expected to soon award Boeing contracts worth $2.8 billion for the first two lots of production planes.
The tankers will first be deployed at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas and Altus AFB in Oklahoma.
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