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KC-46 Tanker Achieves Successful First Test Flight

December 31, 2014 - Boeing and the U.S. Air Force successfully completed the first flight of the KC-46 tanker test program on Sunday. The plane, a Boeing 767-2C, took off from Paine Field, Wash., at 9:29 a.m. (PST) and landed three hours and 32 minutes later at Boeing Field. The aircraft will receive its military systems following certification. 

In February 2011, Boeing was selected by the United States Air Force to build and replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers with the KC-46 Pegasus tanker. The KC-46 was developed by Boeing from its 767 jet airliner. Boeing is on contract to deliver the first 18 of 179 KC-46 aircraft to the Air Force by 2017. 

After numerous delays in the KC-46 tanker program, it appears the program is on the right track. Back in 2003 there were concerns around a KC-46 leasing agreement between Boeing and the Air Force that prompt an investigation. This investigation revealed corruption which resulted in the jailing of a Boeing procurement executive.


Then in 2006, the Department of Defense canceled its contract with Boeing after Airbus raised numerous concerns over the biding process. Airbus and Northrop Grumman partnered together in an effort to win the contract to build the air forces' newest tanker said to be worth well over $40 billion. In the end Boeing was chosen by the Department of Defense. 

As part of a contract awarded in 2011 to design and develop the Air Force’s next-generation tanker aircraft, Boeing is building four test aircraft – two 767-2Cs and two KC-46A Tankers. The 767-2Cs enter flight test as commercial freighters prior to receiving their aerial refueling systems, while the KC-46s will fly as fully equipped tankers through the FAA and military certification process.


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