Boeing’s KC-46 hits major Milestone C decision.  A Milestone C decision is a recommendation and approval to enter the Production and Deployment (PD) Phase.

After struggling earlier this year with being able to deliver fuel to larger aircraft, the KC-46 appears to be back on track. The KC-46 boom was reworked in an effort to deliver fuel to heavier aircraft such as the C-17. This led to a delay in the Milestone C decision and a delay in the delivery of the first 18 certified tankers from August 2017 to January 2018.

Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s acquisition head, declared that the program successfully cleared Milestone C review late Friday.

As part of the milestone decision the KC-46 also had to refuel a variety of aircraft. This included using the boom version for fuel delivery to Air Force aircraft as well as the hose and drogue system for Navy aircraft.

Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) is the next step. Contracts for KC-46 LRIP is expected to cover production for 19 aircraft and associated spare parts. The total value of the LRIP contracts are $2.8 billion in combined value.

“The KC-46 is ready to take the next step,” Gen. Dave Goldfein, Air Force Chief of Staff, said in a service release. “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 wide body, multirole tanker was designed to refuel all U.S., allied and coalition military aircraft. It is  also designed to carry passengers, cargo and patients in addition to fuel. The world’s most modern tanker has a fuel capacity of 212,299 lbs (slightly more than 35,000 gallons).

The Air Force plans to procure 179 KC-46A models over the life of the program.

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Top Photo credit: Boeing