Air Force awards Boeing $2.25B for KC-46 lot 9

By Michael Marrow / January 30, 2023 at 10:22 AM

Boeing will receive $2.25 billion to build the next lot of KC-46 tankers, according to an award announcement posted by the Air Force on Jan. 27.

The service ordered a total of 15 aircraft for production lot 9, with work expected to be completed Aug. 31, 2026, the announcement says.

The lot 9 award comes about five months after the lot 8 contract, which similarly ordered 15 new tankers. According to the Air Force’s fiscal year 2023 budget request, the service planned to order 15 tankers in FY-23, with lawmakers providing approximately $2.49 billion in funding.

The KC-46 contract struck in 2011 included options for 179 tankers, with the final order expected in FY-27. According to a Boeing press release, the company has delivered 68 KC-46s to date including two for the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force. Israel has additionally ordered four of the tankers.

The KC-46’s fixed-price contract has saddled Boeing with billions in losses primarily due to issues with the aircraft’s Remote Vision System, whose fix is now expected in October 2025. A series of new issues with the aircraft’s cargo loading were also recently identified in a recent report published by the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester.

The issues raised a Category I deficiency that was later downgraded to Category II in November 2022, according to a report in Air & Space Forces Magazine.

Air Force officials are weighing whether to keep buying the aircraft for the service’s KC-Y bridge tanker effort or hold a competition to consider buying the KC-46’s competitor, the A330 derivative LMXT manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

A decision on the KC-Y program is expected around the time the Air Force unveils its FY-24 budget request this spring.