KC-46 refuelling boom enters production
This week will see Boeing begin assembly of the refuelling boom for the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) KC-46 tanker aircraft. The KC-46 Boom Assembly Center, where the work will be performed, was officially opened on 16 October at Boeing Field in Seattle.
The beginning of the boom assembly marks the KC-46 programme’s shift from design activities to production.
According to Boeing, 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 refuelling integration. The company said that the KC-46 programme remains on track to deliver 18 combat-ready tankers by 2017, and for the next major USAF contract milestone, the Critical Design Review, scheduled for the summer of 2013.
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 modernised fly-by-wire boom based on the proven system on the USAF’s KC-10 tanker, which will give it advanced refuelling capabilities, allowing it to refuel any fixed-wing receiver aircraft anytime and on any mission.’
Production of the KC-46 aircraft itself will begin next summer at Boeing's Everett facility. Boeing is to build 179 of the aircraft to begin replacing the USAF’s aging KC-135 tankers.
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