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Frontiers December 2013—January 2014 Issue

“Boeing has met every contractual milestone to date.” – Tom Lockhart, U.S. Air Force deputy program executive officer for Tankers assembly is an important milestone. It also means that the program—jointly run by Boeing Defense, Space & Security and Commercial Airplanes—still has much work ahead. But Boeing remains on schedule to meet its commitments, Tom Lockhart, U.S. Air Force deputy program executive officer for Tankers, said recently. “Boeing has met every contractual milestone to date,” Lockhart said at the annual Airlift/Tanker Association conference in Orlando, Fla. “A big part of the development program’s success can be credited to the tight focus the U.S. Air Force and Boeing are maintaining on controlling costs and requirements growth.” Maureen Dougherty, Boeing Defense, Space & Security vice president and KC-46 program manager, attributes that to the strength of the team, which in addition to experts from across Boeing includes the KC-46 System Program Office in Dayton, Ohio, and a global network of suppliers. “It’s a hugely diverse group, but each of us is working under one plan for one mission,” Dougherty said. “Everything we do is about putting a much needed capability into the hands of the warfighter on time.” Lockhart said the development phase is now about 45 per-cent complete, with three test aircraft in production and the fourth set to begin assembly at the Everett factory in January. The KC-46A tanker continues Boeing’s long legacy in providing the Air Force and international forces with aerial refueling capabilities. The KC-135, which first flew in 1956 and has been updated through its long history of service, still makes up the backbone of the Air Force’s tanker fleet, with more than 400 in active service, according to various estimates. The larger KC-10 Extender tanker was produced by heritage company McDonnell Douglas in the late 1970s and ’80s. The U.S. Air Force has an active fleet of 59 KC-10s today. The KC-46A is based on Boeing’s proven 767 platform, with more than 1,060 jetliners, freighters and tankers delivered to date. The new tanker design calls for it to carry more fuel, three times more cargo pallets and more passengers than the KC-135. The flight deck will feature pilot displays that debuted PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONS: (Top) This artist’s concept depicts an F-15 fighter being refueled by the KC-46A tanker using the advanced fly-by-wire refueling boom. (Insets, from far left) The Air Refueling Operator System is located on the flight deck and includes 24-inch displays with 3-D refueling pictures, and a dual instructor station with independent control sticks; the tanker’s state-of-the-art flight deck includes four 15-inch electronic displays like those used on the 787 Dreamliner. BOEING PHOTO: (Near left inset) Boom mechanic Jack Nguyen works in Seattle on the second boom being assembled for the KC-46A tanker. BOB FERGUSON/BOEING BOEING FRONTIERS / DECEMBER 2013–JANUARY 2014 29


Frontiers December 2013—January 2014 Issue
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