Sept. 11, 2015 Defense.org
The Air Force will give an update next week at the annual Air and Space Conference on its two most needed yet controversial aircraft programs — the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the KC-46 Pegasus refueling tanker.
Both projects have recently come under fire from Congress – again. In addition to cost overruns on the $400 billion F-35 program, the fighter’s ability to perform close air support has come into question compared to the aging A-10 Thunderbolt.
The KC-46, developed by Boeing from its 767 series jetliner, has also been hit by cost overruns and questions about Boeing’s ability to meet a deadline to have the aircraft on the ramp and ready for missions by August 2017.
In an Aug. 31 letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote that “I am concerned that the recent problems with the tanker modernization program could prevent the Department of Defense from delivering this critical capability to our warfighters as promised and on schedule.”
The lineup for the Air Force Association’s Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition at National Harbor, Maryland, on Tuesday includes a panel on the F-35 and the KC-46 led by the main officers in charge of getting both programs back on track – Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan for the F-35, and Brig. Gen. Duke Richardson for the KC-46.