Air Force, Boeing eye first KC-46 delivery in October

By Courtney Albon / June 20, 2018 at 2:45 PM

The Air Force and Boeing have agreed to a new KC-46 schedule that sets October as the anticipated date of the first new tanker delivery.

The new schedule agreement, first reported Wednesday by Bloomberg and confirmed by Air Force Under Secretary Matthew Donovan, indicates that the remaining 17 aircraft are slated to be delivered by April 2019.

"As a result of months of collaboration, the Air Force and Boeing KC-46A teams have reached an agreed joint program schedule to get to the first 18 aircraft deliveries," Donovan said in a June 20 statement. "While the KC-46A flight test program is nearly complete, significant work remains. The Air Force is looking forward to KC-46A first delivery and will continue to work with Boeing on opportunities to expedite the program."

This schedule alignment comes after months of disagreement between the Air Force and Boeing's schedule projections. The agreed-upon schedule is fairly close to the service's most recent prediction, which foresaw initial aircraft deliveries coming in early fiscal year 2019. Boeing's more optimistic time line projected the company would hand over the first tanker this summer.

Boeing was originally supposed to have delivered the first 18 aircraft in August 2017, putting the program 21 months behind the original schedule.

In a June 20 statement, the company touted the progress it has made working with the Air Force.

"The KC-46 is a top priority for the Boeing Company, and we have the best of Boeing working to ensure the U.S. Air Force gets their tankers as quickly as possible," the company said.