New KC-46A announcements released
BAE Systems has announced that it has been awarded a contract to develop and manufacture the Actuator Control Unit (ACU) for the Boeing KC-46A tanker. Boeing has also announced that the tanker programme has reached a significant milestone, with completion of a US Air Force Preliminary Design Review.
The BAE Systems contract is for the design, development, test, and production of the ACU for the Boom Actuation Control System of the KC-46A tanker, according to a 9 May, 2012 company press release. The ACU provides the control interfaces necessary for movement of the aerial refuelling boom. Boom commands processed by the ACU to control the boom actuators are initiated by an aerial refuelling operator using a boom flight control stick.
Boeing has already been selected to provide its Interior Control Panel for the KC-46A. According to the company, the panel leverages touch-screen technology and a user-friendly interface that allows an aircrew to efficiently control a variety of interior functions such as lighting, potable water, and waste tanks on the new aerial refuelling and strategic transport aircraft.
Boeing also announced 9 May, 2012, that the aircraft has completed a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) with the US Air Force, a key milestone in the development of the next-generation aerial refuelling tanker.
According to Boeing, the review, which began March 21 and ended April 27, demonstrated that the preliminary design of the KC-46A Tanker meets system requirements and establishes the basis for proceeding with detailed design. Boeing remains on plan to deliver 18 combat-ready KC-46A Tankers by 2017.
The programme's next major milestone is a Critical Design Review (CDR) that will take place in the summer of 2013. The CDR will determine that the design of the KC-46A is mature and ready to proceed to the manufacturing phase. First flight of the tanker is expected in 2014.
The KC-46 tanker programme will modify a Boeing 767 to produce a civil and military-certified convertible aircraft capable of tanker, troop transport, and cargo missions. The tanker will have the capability to operate day and night, in all weather conditions, under modern domestic and international regulations for civil airspace.
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