With the first set of Pratt & Whitney engines delivered for the U.S. Air Force’s KC-46 test aircraft, Boeing is planning to roll out the first green 767-2C next year.
The 767-2C is the customized commercial platform on which the KC-46 is designed. The 2C includes provisions — such as customized plumbing — to support the KC-46’s refueling mission.
Boeing won a contract worth $4.9 billion in February 2011; it includes delivery of 18 KC-46s in 2017. These are the first of an anticipated buy of 179 tankers to begin replacing the aging KC-135 fleet.
The KC-46 program is among the Air Force’s top three procurement priorities alongside the single-engine, stealthy F-35 and a new long-range bomber.
The Air Force completed the KC-46 critical design review in August, one month ahead of plan.
The 767-2C is slated to begin flying by June and the KC-46 is slated to start flight testing in January 2015. Boeing has fabricated the first KC-46 refueling boom.
It remains to be seen how much the KC-46 program will cost Boeing. The government estimates the cost at completion is $5.6 billion, $500 million more than Boeing’s estimate and $700 million more than the Air Force’s contract ceiling. Because the contract is fixed price, any overrun must be paid for by Boeing