23 October, 2015 By James Drew – FG
Washington DC - Just months after being rejected by South Korea and weeks after first flight, Boeing’s KC-46A has been selected by Japan to supplement the nation’s KC-767 tanker fleet.
The announcement came from Japanese defence minister Gen Nakatani on Friday, and constitutes a significant win for Boeing after a troubled start to the next-generation tanker development programme with the US Air Force. The Pegasus tanker can almost see the end of its development phase, after achieving first flight 25 September from Paine Field in Washington, following a roughly nine-month delay. According to Boeing, KC-46 is particularly attractive to Japan as it will be capable of refuelling the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s planned fleet of Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey helicopters. Japan intends to procure three tankers for fielding in the 2020 time frame, at a cost of more ¥20.8 billion – about $173 million per tanker.