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Second KC-46A Tanker assembly begins

23rd August 2013 - 15:14 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Assembly of the second KC-46A aerial refuelling tanker for the US Air Force (USAF) has begun, with Boeing workers loading the aircraft’s wing spar into an Automated Spar Assembly Tool.

The wing spar, the main structural component of the wing, is 82 feet 5 inches long and provides critical support for flight loads and the weight of the wings. This second aircraft is scheduled to leave the Boeing facility in March 2014.

The first of four Engineering, Manufacturing and Development test aircraft is expected to roll out of the factory in January 2014. Boeing plans to fly the fully provisioned tanker for the first time in early 2015 and make the first delivery in 2016. The company expects to build and deliver the first 18 KC-46As by 2017 and a total of 179 by 2027 if all options under the contract are exercised.

Maj. Gen. John Thompson, US Air Force program executive officer for tankers, said: ‘Completing production of the four test aircraft on schedule is our priority as we prepare to enter the flight test phase of the programme. The programme continues to meet or exceed all contract milestones.’

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