September 19, 2012 by Zach Rosenberg – FG
Washington DC - Eighteen months into the Boeing KC-46 tanker programme, all is progressing as planned, says Maj Gen John Thompson, the US Air Force (USAF) programme manager.
The programme, meant to produce an aerial tanker to replace the Boeing KC-135, is 21% finished with its development schedule and remains on time and on budget.
The first parts - skin for the tail boom - have been produced, "so if someone tells you this is a paper plane, you can point at them and say, 'liar!'" says Thompson.
"I will have plenty of number two and number three priorities, but my number one priority is to successfully get through the critical design review (CDR) next year."
CDR is scheduled for July, 2013, with a plethora of subsystem PDRs to be completed beforehand. After CDR, the aircraft is built. The first flight of the new 767 variant upon which the KC-46 is based is scheduled for 2014, with a 2015 flight of the actual tanker aircraft.
Budget sequestration, scheduled to take effect in January, 2013 without Congressional intervention, would be "near catastrophic" for the programme, says Thompson.