McConnell, in Wichita, Kan., will receive two more tankers in the weeks ahead. Then Oklahoma’s Altus Air Force Base will receive four planes to support aircrew training.
The KC-46 program ran into myriad issues resulting in a two-year delay in delivery, as well as more than $3 billion in cost overruns that the company covered.
“To me, its personal to bring on this capability,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said after arriving on base. “This is a big day for us.”
“I think we all know the journey over the last several years,” Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said Thursday. “It hasn’t been easy. In fact, it’s been hard. But this team stuck to it. This team worked together.”
The Air Force will soon begin evaluating the KC-46’s systems in operationally realistic scenarios, which is required before the aircraft can be used in combat. It will also continue validating the KC-46’s refueling capabilities, with aircraft including the B-2 bomber, C-5 cargo plane, and F-35 fighter. Prior testing involved the B-52 bomber, C-17 cargo plane, and F-15E and F/A-18 fighters, among others.
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