The Air Force and Boeing successfully conducted the KC-46 critical design review, or CDR, from July 8-10 at the Boeing facility in Mukilteo, Wash.
The KC-46 weapon system CDR was the culmination of nine months of component and sub-system design reviews, which blended the best practices of both the commercial and Department of Defense frameworks.
Currently, the CDR still has a few actions to finish, but the process is scheduled to be complete well in advance of the Sept. 24 contractual date.
“The efforts by the combined Boeing and Air Force team to get to this point in the program development have been tremendous,” said Maj. Gen. John Thompson, the program executive officer for tankers. “For the warfighter, completion of this milestone is a big step forward toward beginning the recapitalization of the Air Force’s legacy KC-135 fleet, delivering advanced and improved multimission capabilities to the fight on day one.”
Attendees at the meetings included the Government KC-46 Program Office, Boeing, Air Mobility Command, Air Force and Department of Defense test and acquisition leaders, and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Thompson said that the overall design maturity of the tanker is at a high level, grounded in the commercial-derivative nature of the design approach, which is based on the Boeing 767.
Once the CDR is complete, Boeing will proceed into the fabrication, hardware and software integration, and test phase of the KC-46 development program.
The Air Force contracted with Boeing in February 2011 to acquire 179 KC-46 Tankers to begin recapitalizing the more than 50-year-old KC-135 fleet. The initial delivery target is for 18 tankers by 2017. Production will then ramp up to deliver all 179 tankers by 2028.
The first fully-equipped KC-46 is projected to fly in early 2015 in support of engineering and manufacturing development activities.