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Boeing Begins Production Of KC-46 Tanker Refueling Boom
By Shane Nolan

October 17, 2012 - Boeing this week begins assembling the first refueling boom for the U.S. Air Force's next-generation aerial refueling tanker aircraft in the KC-46 Boom Assembly Center that opened on Tuesday at Boeing Field in Seattle.

Maureen Dougherty, KC-46 vice president and program manager for Boeing said "We're pleased that this facility opened on schedule. The KC-46A will feature a modernized fly-by-wire boom based on the proven system on the U.S. Air Force's KC-10 tanker, which will give it advanced refueling capabilities, allowing it to refuel any fixed-wing receiver aircraft anytime and on any mission."

Boom assembly marks the program's shift to production from design activities. "It's a big day for the KC-46 Tanker Program and the U.S. Air Force," said Maj. Gen. John Thompson, U.S. Air Force Tanker Program Executive Officer and KC-46 Program Director. "Boeing continues to make good progress toward delivering the KC-46 Tanker on schedule."

The first boom will enter testing during the third quarter of 2013 at a System Integration Lab (SIL), known as SIL 0. It is one of five labs designed to reduce risk for avionics and aerial refueling integration. Boeing invented the air refueling boom and has been building, upgrading and modifying them for more than 60 years.


The Boeing KC-46 is a military aerial refueling and strategic transport aircraft developed by Boeing from its 767 jet airliner. In February 2011, the tanker was selected by United States Air Force (USAF) as the winner in the KC-X tanker competition to replace older KC-135 Stratotankers.

Boeing's KC-46 program remains on track to deliver 18 combat-ready tankers by 2017, and for the next major Air Force contract milestone, the Critical Design Review, scheduled for the summer of 2013.

Production of the KC-46 aircraft begins next summer in Boeing's Everett, Wash., factory. The aircraft will be a 767-2C variant of the commercial 767-200ER airplane. Boeing will build 179 next-generation aerial refueling tanker aircraft to begin replacing the Air Force's aging KC-135 tankers.


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