The Department of the Air Force announced today the award of an engineering and manufacturing development contract valued at more than $3.5 billion for the KC-46A aerial refueler to Boeing Co. of Seattle, Washington.

The Air Force-led selection effort included experts from the larger Department of Defense community, including the office of the Defense Secretary’s staff and independent review teams during each step of the process.

“Many factors were evaluated during the tanker selection process,” said Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley.

Selection “took into account mission effectiveness in wartime and life cycle costs as embodied in fuel efficiency and military construction costs,” said Donley, emphasizing that both offerors met all the mandatory requirements.

“The thorough and transparent selection process was marked by continual dialogue with offerors to ensure the Air Force had a clear understanding of their proposals and the companies clearly understood the service’s analysis of their offers,” said Donley.

“Gen. Schwartz and I are confident in the fact that when our young pilots, boom operators and maintainers receive this aircraft, they will have the tools they need to be successful at what we ask them to do,” Donley said.

“To the men and women of our Air Force, today’s announcement represents a long-overdue start to a much-needed program,” Donley said. “Your Air Force leadership, supported by others throughout the Department of Defense, is determined to see this through, and we will stand behind this work.”

The program will deliver the first 18 aircraft by 2017. Basing decisions for the aircraft will take place over the next couple of years.

Key Points

  • The KC-X is the Air Force‚Äôs #1 acquisition priority.
  • The KC-X will be capable of operating in day or night, in adverse weather conditions, and in hostile environments The
    Department of Defense is committed to a fair, open and transparent process to select a new aerial refueling aircraft.

Key Performance Parameters

  1. Tanker Air Refueling Capability – Accomplishing air refueling of all current and programmed fixed wing receiver aircraft
  2. Fuel Offload and Range – Fuel, offload, range chart at least equivalent to KC-135R
  3. Communication, Navigation, Surveillance, Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) – Worldwide flight ops at all times in all civil and military airspace
  4. Airlift Capability – Capability to carry passengers, palletized cargo, and/or aeromedical patients on entire main deck, self deploy
  5. Receiver Air Refueling Capability – Capable from any boom equipped tanker aircraft
  6. Force Protection – Operate in chem/bio environments
  7. Net-Ready – Meet enterprise-level joint critical integrated architecture requirements
  8. Survivability – Must be able to operate in hostile environments (Defensive systems, Night Vision, Nuclear Ops)
  9. Multi-Point Refueling – Provisions for multi-point drogue refueling