The first Boeing KC-46 tanker destined for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) took to the skies on its maiden flight this week. This successful flight highlights an important milestone as the Everett-built aircraft now transitions into the certification phase of development.
“This is an exciting milestone for the JASDF and Boeing,” said Jamie Burgess, KC-46 program manager. “Japan is getting closer to receiving the most advanced air refueling tanker in the world.”
Japan is the KC-46 program’s first international customer and is scheduled to receive its first jet this year. While the aircraft is built in Everett, Boeing’s Japanese partners produce 16% of the KC-46 airframe structure. Japan is now on contract for a total of four KC-46 tankers.
“This tanker’s ability to carry cargo and passengers also makes it a critical tool to support humanitarian relief efforts across the Pacific Region and beyond,” said Will Shaffer, president of Boeing Japan.
The U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a $279 million contract for the JASDF’s first KC-46A tanker in December 2017. The KC-46 refueling certification encompasses U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and JASDF aircraft.
Boeing is assembling KC-46A aircraft for both the U.S. Air Force and Japan on its 767 production line in Everett, Washington.
By Jane McCarthy