Tanker enters construction phase

Tanker enters construction phase

Boeing took the first step toward transitioning from the design to the construction phase of the tanker program as it began building the KC-46  tanker refueling booms.

The Air Force lauded the progress with Air Force Maj. Gen. John Thompson, the U.S. Air Force Tanker Program Executive Officer and KC-46 Program Director, saying “Boeing continues to make good progress toward delivering the KC-46 Tanker on schedule.”

Boeing is scheduled to deliver the first 18 tankers to start replacing the aging KC-135 Stratotanker fleet in 2017. The next major milestone for the tanker program arrives in 2013 with the Critical Design Review.

Air Force leaders commended the tanker program at the Air Force Association’s annual conference in September for the pivot it has made from being seen as a service embarrassment to a highly regarded acquisition program with its fixed-price contract.

In fact, the Defense Department tapped former tanker program director, Air Force Maj. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, to take over the F-35 program and he’s already started to shake things up.

Of course, the progress seen with the tanker program is put at risk by the threat of sequestration and the $500 billion cut to planned defense spending if Congress can’t come to a deficit reduction agreement by Jan. 2. Thompson said the Air Force could lose its fixed price contract as sequestration would force the military to re-negotiate many of its contracts.

New Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh remains focused on the tanker. He listed it as one of his top three modernization programs along with the long range bomber and the F-35.


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This will take the longest building the huge facilities to build the new Tanker. On the 747 took 4 years to built all four facilities. take about the same here no KC-46 will enter service till 2017anyway. Good to see Boeing at work.

I worked on the KC 135 tanker,and looking at the new KC 46, i’m impressed. This new tanker looks HUGE.

Not really, just a 767 which is smaller than a 747.

The Airbus variant was a good deal larger — and apparently large enough so that we would’ve had to rebuild all the hangers, etc, that the 767 variants can live in just fine.

It’s derived from the 767, they’ll probably just produce them at the same facilities.

There not exactly the same some parts will work between the two but not all.

I do believe the Boeing goal was to build this aircraft in Maryland, but the Unions stopped the move via the White House and the politics of revenge and payoffs for their loyalty??? This current Admin has stuck their nose and power grabbing into almost ALL military, and most civilian matters, to insure their dictatorial powers!

It’s a 767 airframe, a ‘wide body’, well built but not new.

Blah Blah Blah. Don’t forget to blame the “Elite Lame Stream Media”!

Compared to a KC-135, it’s huge.

The Air Force should have gone with EADS (AIRBUS) they could have had it done in 1/2 the time. but Boeing complained that the bids were wrong and so Boeing as usual didn’t like the competition and squashed EADS (BTW, it would have made more jobs in the US, down in Mobile, AL) Typical of Boeing

The KC-46 wil not be extremely outsized from the KC-135. Check the footprint comparisons: http://​tinyurl​.com/​9​9​u​d​zy5

I am wondering, why didn’t the USAF take a version of the Boeing 777 and turn it into a Tanker Transport

The EADS airplane would have been developed and delivered on the exact same timeline as the Boeing aircraft. The EADS plane was larger and could deliver more fuel but was also more expensive, couldn’t use as many runways, and required infrastructure upgrades. The USAF wanted a KC-135 replacement at the lowest cost, and that is what they got.

finally, some good news.… God bless the USA and the Air Force that defends her.

A KC-777 may very well show up as a KC-10 replacement.

EADS has a tanker flying already, but it was heavily subsidized by the governments in Europe. Then it was still over budget yet again. Airbus is Boeing’s main competitiion for commercial aircraft and know that Airbus is heavily subsidized. This is how they won the compettion from EADS on the second try, by touting unfair competition.

Impressive… literally every single sentence in this post was factually inaccurate.

everything is subsidized in the western world. Even the corn and meat you eat.

Actually it would have been nice if they could have continued buying KC-10s but based on the MD-11.

Worked on the 135 myself. 55th AMS — offutt. Lot of good memories. Back when they had real cars to drive around, and real music on the radio. Riding (sleeping) in the launch truck. Experience on the 135 helped me get a job with Delta Air Lines as line mechanic. Onboard systems were pretty much the same at that time between military and civilian aircraft. so it was an easy transition, for me anyway. When the 757 and 767 with the EICAS systems came along, the old timers , like from the DC-3 days, started calling the avons, TV repair men. Almost culture shock to them, It was all in fun though.

I work for a current airline, and I am very glad it is a Boeing. I am not fond of Airbus, they do not build the same quality of aircraft as Boeing. Best of all, BUY AMERICAN!!!!!

A large majority of current hangars are 60 years old and delapidating. A large portion of them should be condemned. Getting some updated facilities along with a new airframe would be refreshing.

I’m sure the Airbus say the same thing about Boeing. You are biased.

See “KC-Y”.

did you walk uphill both ways to the base, and you ate only if you could kil a deer with your bare hands and eat it raw?

how do you KNOW EADS could have done it in 1/2 the time.. do you have a crystal ball that lets you see the future?

Boeing has a tanker based on the 767 flying as well.. look up the Boeing KC-767, Japan and Italy have 4 each of them.

that was also a proposal of Boeing for the USAF, a KC-777 but the KC-46 (767) better met what the Air Force wanted for a replacement tanker.

The new tankers will be built on the same assembly lines as the 767 commercial jets. This is a smart move.

At last check, Mobile is still the USA. We lost the war.

A Mobile assembled tanker would’ve been American made.

I work for a US based cargo airline that flies both Airbus and Boeing freighters. I can say that from experience, the Boeings are built better. Strong floors and less problems overall. Just my 2 cents but its a first hand observation over many years of hands on experience. Glad to see the future KC is a Boeing.

Hey dip$hits, the assembly line already exists in Everett Washington. There is no way in Hell they are going to move/build a new assembly line on a fixed $$$ contract.

The assembly line already exists in Everett, Wa. Yes, they helped retain the 767 assembly line in their last Union contract. Had nothing to do with politics. Had everything to do with the local union taking Boeing to the woodshed.

If there was any justice in this world, the new tanker, would be the 787, not the ancient horribly inefficient 767. Both planes are identical, payload wise, except one is ancient and the other modern. Modifying for a tanker is lead pipe simple. Could pop a 787 off the assembly line tomorrow and outfit it for tanker work in about 3 months if they really wanted to. This has more to do with Boeing cashing in on an old system and collecting a bit more of easy profit than anything else.

Boeing can already sell all it’s 777s and is even late but it had an idle 767 line and no customers for what is an obsolete aircraft.

Makes good sense to sell old junk that nobody wants to the airforce rather then the latest aircraft.

Ironically in the comercial world the aircraft the airlines have switched to over the 767 is the airbus contender.

The difference isnt whether the aircrafts painting shed is big enough — that is trivial — it’s the difference between capitalism and a corrupt manufacturer and congress.

Nobody buys “767 commercial jets” anymore.

That is pretty lame. Although you’d think eliminating an entire production line and consolidating is cheaper than hanging onto two lines…unless customer is USG. Bwahaha!

Just the usual contractor lies from Crooked Bill the Contractor shill.

The A330 is the aircraft that destroyed the 767s market. Its the reason why obsolete 767 line was being closed before it was rescued by the tanker order.

It used to be the USAF chose the latest and best capability but now it buys obsolete ones to keep contractor factories open.

the 46 is a 767 wide body, the 135’s lasted many years, one thing the airbus can not do. the A319’s are being scrapped and the first 320’s are going too. the Boeing planes just are better built.

Don’t be silly.

Part of the whole debate between the A330 based offering and the 767 one was the size of the aircraft. A 777 based offering would have caused all of the problems of the A330-based one (i.e. bigger hangers, heavier aircraft, etc.). The 767 is probably the perfect sized aircraft to grow capabilities and not impact on the facilities footprint the way a much larger aircraft would (we’re replacing KC-135 sized facilities…not KC-10 ones so don’t go assuming that since the Air Force already has KC-10s it could accommodate a huge fleet of 777 based tankers…’cause it can’t without building all the hangers).

Also, I do not understand the this “old crap” argument. Just because they didn’t spend billions to develop an airframe and engines does not mean the air force is getting old junk. A new manufactured, proven, airframe, new avionics, new engines. Seriously, do you want it to have forward swept wings? And the amount of spare parts available even after production closes down.

If the USAF really wanted cheap tankers, all they have to do is go down the the desert and buy up 767-200s of which there are bucket loads just sitting there. After all this is what the USAF is essentially buying new. Said airframes have thousands upon thousand of hours left on them. They are simply inefficient as human transports and don’t have the cargo volume as the freighter versions. This is why they are sitting there. It cost less to buy/lease a new fuel efficient aircraft than retain an older engined aircraft. A Tanker doesn’t need the volume. Likewise a fuel tanker spends most of its life sitting on the tarmac unlike a civilian transport where said fuel efficiencies pile up.

It boils down to they are buying old junk on a new build airframe. If they are going to buy a new airframe, it makes far more sense to buy a 787 shorter winged version, assuming said 787 wing is too wide for the old hangers . Which would make the Japanese/Eastern Europeans/South American countries and Boeing happy as well who want such an aircraft. Boeing was more than willing to build said plane, but the Japanese pulled out even though they are still interested Instead they are trying to simply keep Boeing’s profit margins high building new planes when said airframes are already cheaply available for a song. This way the USAF would get vastly more efficient planes(25% fuel) and vastly longer lasting engines as well. Instead we now get the worse of both worlds.

For the Record. the 46 will be made in/on the same tooling as the pax and freighter versions of the 767. Ref the 135, those ole hulls have been modded and refurbed so much the only original part is the data plates. Not unlike the B52. Airbus makes a good plane too, but throw politics into the deal and they don’t have a chance.

The 767 means we have half the capability in the pacific that we would have had with the airbus. But then the F-35 and LCS means we have hardly any capability at all so it dosent really matter. The pacific pivot is considered a bit of a joke in Asia already.

The A330 is the 767 successor, it captured it’s entire market practically overnight leaving Boeing with a white elephant of a production line.

The tanker deal is to rescue Boeing from it’s poor planning pure and simple.

Its just hilarious that you think a few million dollars worth of hangers decided a multy billion dollar deal.

You can say whatever you want against the 767 but it’s a proven platform, and companies still use it. The aircraft of choice for going in the far north is the boeing 737, neither a 777 nor the 787.

“Could pop a 787 off the assembly line tomorrow and outfit it for tanker work in about 3 months if they really wanted to.”

POPPYCOCK, The EADS tanker would have to have been completely redesigned to meet the USAF tanker requirements, which I am sure you know nothing about. It’s the same reason Boeing had to create an entirely new configuration, instead of just offering the Japan/ Italy version for the contract.

Read the GAO report on the the tanker dispute, the Airbus plane failed 3 of the minimum requirements. PERIOD

I wonder it China will buy Airbus Tankers to give it the Offensive Pacific reach. Naw, they will buy 2 Airbus one to train on and one to take apart and re engineer to the C Tanker. then it will give them the Pacifice Offensive reach no need to sail an Carrier to Hawaii next time.

Looking at wikipedia’s delivery list for the 767 and the A330, it’s worth noting that the A330 is a decade newer than the 767, has a backlog of ~300 aircraft and delivered 71 aircraft in 2012 to the 767’s 20.

Reading between the lines, there is a bit of a lagtime between an order and a delivery, and it would appear with Boeing that a delivery is generally for an aircraft ordered a few years earlier. Total orders for 767 sit at ~1.1k, A330 at ~1.2k, but with only 900 delivered.

It’s certainly of interest that both aircraft are almost equal numbers even though one is a decade newer. Amusingly, the 737 is doing better than its A320 rival, but that’s another story…

And of course, there’s the question of whether or not 767 customers were better served by the 777. Both the 777 and the A330 came out at around the same time, but…

APPARENTLY you are NOT an engineer working for Boeing. I am. I have worked 747F, 747 conversions namely IAI,777ER, 787, 737 MMA, 767 Tanker, 767-300ER. Those are only the projects that finalized into an end product.

To do the Tanker project takes no more than a group of about 10–20 guys max. Of course it takes a whole herd of drones and blowhards to placate the government pukes who do nothing but get in the way slowing everything down to a crawl as they make sure to make sure their name gets properly in the lime light so they can climb the ladder.

They can’t pop a 767 off the line today and have it ready in 3 months, what makes you think they could do it to an 87??? At least with the 67 they have a baseline in the GTTA to start with. You must be one of those super engineer employees I see every day of the week at the Everett site.

If it only takes a group of 10–20 guys to do a tanker in three months, then why are there hundreds of folks working for years to create the KC??? What are they doing in Mukilteo? Playing ping pong?

Modified the IAI 747 Freighter in 2 months. That was all the design, FEA, initial cut/modify job. A HUGE job as Boeing didn’t have an FEA model of their 747 airplane as it was so old. Took all of 11 of us. 11! What we did was extend the bulge higher and nearly full hull length of the airframe. Rudder was modified slightly as well.

MMA, actual design time was all of 3 months(not really), but placating the bureaucrats took forever(3+++ years). That aircraft required vastly more modifications than the 767 tanker that Japan is already using.

Most of the time almost ALL of the time is required to satisfy FAA etc regs. Reason why the airforce won’t accept the 767 Tanker design/modification that already exists for Japan.

As for ping pong, if you work there yes, you know that they do. Every lunch hour after work and quite often for long periods on Saturday…

You must be one of those FAA placating “engineers” running around the place seeing all the horrors of over regulatory bureau’s. Sorry, your job sucks.

Wikipedia aggregated the A330 numbers, whereas the 777/767 numbers are listed separately.

It would give the two Boeing craft a 2:1 in terms of numbers, but would require a little more work to give a faithful comparison of orders and deliveries.

At the 30.00+ a gallon the USAF is paying to convert natural gas to jet fuel in Cushing Oklahoma these tankers will need armend guards to protect them from being hijacked.

You must have be one of those contractors, that was here raping the place for 16 hours a week overtime. Regardless you are still full of it.

I was a tanker crew chief –307th AREFG (SAC) Travis AFB. Ca. I kind a miss those days myself, except for ALERT. Did’nt see Avonic alot, except when on ALERT. i had some buddies over in AMS. The 307th was split up in 1984. I separated then.

Worked and flew on the KC-135A, and a Flight Engineer on ther KC-10 ( which you never hear anything about) Boeing is the way to go. They can’t even keep the Boom from falling off the Airbus.

Trust me the USAF did the right thing to go to Boeing aerospace for their global reach initiatives. EADS (Airbus) has severe safety issues that haven’t been throughly addressed. In my humble opinion. Maybe Mobile, Alabama and any other state that embraces the right to work issue partner with Boeing aerospace. It’s time to put Americans back to work. For me, I’d rather fly on a Boeing product or ride Amtrak. You be the judge.

I flew the KC-135A for most of my AF career. My last assignment was to design the training programs for the “R” model. Boeing’s original design requirements for the 367–80 was to build an aflame that would be modifiable, They succeeded beyond their dreams, Even if Boeing is able to start production of the new tanker tomorrow, the last KC-135 will be retired in the 2040’s. Like the B-52, we are looking at an airplane that will be nearly 100 years old before it is retired.

There is something that most people miss about the tankers. Without them, there is no war. Without the tanker, bombers, cargo, and fighter aircraft do not have fuel. Few of these aircraft are stationed in harm’s way. They get into harms way, but without the tanker they have no mission. This statement is not meant to denigrate the other missions, but the fact is that without the “airborne fuel stations” there is no air or ground superiority. Check the history from Viet Nam, forward.

I don’t care who wins in the next administration, the fact is that if the KC-67 is delayed, we will be depend on the old reliable KC-135 and KC-10’s that have been around forever. Anyone for a 200 year old airplane?

Gary E. Lieberg, Lt Col Ret, USAF

I worked both as employee and as contractor because unlike 75% of the Aero or FEA guys, I actually work instead of sitting on my behind. Both my brother and father work/ed in same industry. Bro is in defense satellites in Kent currently and likewise worked the wing of 787.

PS. Humorous note, I was one of those contractor baby sitters on the 787.
PPS. I have gone in and out of Boeing several times and Boeing was paying overtime just fine. Just that the hourly rate for a contract engineer is vastly superior and one actually gets to work instead of sitting on your hands twiddling your thumbs up your.…

And your point is???

What you say is just BS, Boeing has the KC-135 that is as old as the B-52, show me one AB aircraft flying and in service that is over 50 years flying. Show me one tanker that AB has built, thought so. Boeing has built other tankers on this platform that are in service with other nations. I would imagine that they are refining and up dating the new tanker for the USAF.and have the lead time to do it right. I have worked on both Boeing, 720, 727, 737, 757, 767, 747, 777, and last but not least the KC-135 both A & B and AB A320 & 319, I can tell you that AB is not the quality plane that Boeing is. While they cost less to buy they are made of all proprietary parts that cost 3X to ?x more then the comparable part from Boeing.Cost is only half the problem, the big one is availability, hard to get some parts in peace time, all bets off in time of war,It would surprise me if they last 25 years in daily service.

KC 46 looks lile another subside to Boeing inbound to develop à new commercial aircraft.
The Airbus A 350 is scoring points aigainst the Dreamliner.
FAF will turn his choice from KC 135 to KC 40 for an operational and economical purpose.
As usual

As usual, the KC 46 looks like as a subside for an help to the développent of à commercial inbound to save the Boeing soldier.
W’ill see later on if the KC 40 was not the best choice for the USAF in terms of operatinal , financial and economical capabilitiis.
Obviously the FAF will swich from KC 135 to KC 40 for that purpose.
The A 350 is marking points vs the Dreamliner.

Paul de Foucaud Col ® FAF.

Weh the airlines started to park the DC 10“s the AF should have picked some of them up. We would be ahead of the game now.

“Weh the airlines started to park the DC 10’s the AF should have picked some of them up.”


The KC-10 Extender is one of the best performing assets in the USAF inventory. Its costs per flight hour have actually worked out to be remarkably low for a jet of such size. Its range, fuel load, and time on station are amazingly suitable for the long distances in the Pacific.

It would have been cheap and easy to turn retired boneyard DC-10s into refurbished KC-10s.

Instead, FedEx realized what a bargain the secondhand DC-10s represented. FedEx engineering teams swooped in and bought them all up and converted them to glass cockpit MD-10 freighters.

I watch those things fly overhead every day. Built like tanks, high dispatch reliability, long legs. Excellent logistic assets. Assets that the USAF foolishly ignored.

If there are problems with the KC-46 program down the line, this lack of foresight will be even more apparent.

I think we should vote for Baraka Obama

Obama has done more for the military than alot of the past president and our military could become stronger if we let him go another 4 years

Dont like both ones a gun ban homo marring liberal other bought out but crappy Euro companies like EADS FN Thales Eurocopter and he will kill American arms industry. Both men suck.


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