Boeing remains confident it will deliver the first KC-46A Pegasus tanker to the U.S. Air Force this year, Boeing Defense president and CEO Leanne Caret told reporters on Sunday. Following the completion of an annual risk-assessment exercise earlier this month, the Air Force had suggested the first delivery could be delayed until next spring.
Boeing (Chalet 332) is working toward its “required assets available” contractual commitment to deliver the first 18 of 179 planned tankers to the U.S. service—a milestone originally set for this August but later amended by the parties to postpone the first set of deliveries to October 2018. The extension also allows time for late certification and delivery of nine sets of Cobham wing aerial refueling pods. The manufacturer is progressing toward Federal Aviation Administration supplemental type certification of the KC-46A.
“I have confidence we are going to start delivering our first tankers this year, and then we’ll work through [the schedule] with the Air Force on how many they want to receive at what period of time, recognizing they have to receive a certain quantity as well,” Caret said during a roundtable meeting with reporters at a Paris hotel.
“What the Air Force has said is that if Boeing is not able to mitigate the risks that have been outlined, then there will be risks to making that first delivery at the end of this year,” Caret acknowledged. “Boeing’s job is to mitigate those risks…What the Air Force was reporting out was factual with regard to the schedule risk assessment.”
Caret added: “We’ve resolved all of the known technical issues. We’re in the process of finishing up the flight test, and then we’re getting these things FAA-certified to start delivery at the year-end.”