Boeing finally released significant detail on the U.S. Air Force KC-46 Tanker, and a list of the major suppliers, at the Paris Air Show yesterday.
The announcement dispels some of the mystery that has surrounded the configuration, since Boeing won the controversial KC-X competition in February. According to the company, a total of 50,000 U.S. jobs in more than 40 states will be supported by the program. In all, more than 800 companies will make a contribution.
Boeing now says that the KC-46A will be “based on the proven Boeing 767-200ER” airliner, powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW4062 engines. The maximum takeoff weight will be 415,000 pounds and the maximum fuel capacity will be 212,000 pounds. Eighteen military 463L pallets can be carried, plus 58 passengers (plus up to 56 more in an emergency).
Essentially, then, the KC-46A airframe will be similar to the four KC-767s being supplied to Italy, albeit with a new cockpit, refueling boom and updated defensive systems.
The tanker’s digital fly-by-wire boom will offload fuel at a rate of 1,200 gallons per minute, and include a camera that captures 3-D video, supplementing others mounted on the fuselage. Rockwell Collins will supply these cameras, while the other key suppliers to the Boeing-designed boom are Parker Aerospace (interface control system) and Woodward (sensor system, control unit and telescopic and flight control sticks). As expected, Cobham is providing the wing refueling pods and centerline drogue system. DRS Laurel Technologies is responsible for the aerial refueling operator station (AROS) in the crew compartment.
Rockwell Collins is also providing the integrated cockpit display system based on the 787 airliner and featuring 15-inch diagonal LCDs, plus a “tactical situational awareness system,” communications, navigation, surveillance, networking and flight control systems.
Parker Aerospace is supplying primary flight controls and fuel, hydraulics and pneumatic equipment for the KC-46A.
The other key suppliers are:
• Eaton Aerospace–electromechanical and cargo door actuation systems, hydraulic and fuel distribution subcomponents;
• GE Aviation Systems–mission control system;
• Goodrich–interiors and landing gear;
• Honeywell–auxiliary power unit, cabin pressure control system, air data inertial navigation;
• Moog–electro-hydraulic servo valves, actuators, stabilize trim controls, leading edge slat actuator, inboard/outboard leading edge rotary actuators, autopilot actuators, elevator feel system, refueling boom actuators;
• Northrop Grumman–large aircraft infrared countermeasures;
• Raytheon–digital radar warning receiver and digital anti-jam receiver GPS;
• Spirit–forward fuselage section, strut, nacelle components to include inlet, fan cowl and core cowl, fixed fan duct, fixed leading edge;
• Triumph Group–horizontal stabilizer and aft body section, including pressure bulkhead, wing center section, doors, nacelles and other components including cowl doors, seal depressor panels, acoustic panels and aft wheel well bulkhead.