WASHINGTON — Defense giant Boeing today announced the Air Force has awarded the firm a $2.3 billion contract for 15 KC-46A Pegasus, a month after the company said it’s found a fix for a troublesome vision system.
The new contract is for the ninth lot of an overall order for 128 KC-46As, 68 of which have been delivered to the Air Force, the company said.
“The combat-ready KC-46A is transforming the role of the tanker for the 21st century,” James Burgess, vice president and Boeing’s KC-46 program manager, said in a press release. “We’re proud to work side-by-side with the Air Force ensuring the Pegasus provides unmatched capabilities and continues to evolve for the U.S. and its allies’ global mission needs.”
The relationship between Boeing and the Air Force had been strained in the past over a disagreement related to problems with the tanker’s Remote Vision System, with the company on the hook to pay for fixes. But in late December, after Boeing agreed to fund upgrades, company officials told reporters the relationship had smoothed out. At the time, an Air Force official praised the upgraded vision system, RVS 2.0, as a “quantum leap” in camera tech.
Still, potential issues with the Pegasus linger. The fiscal year 2022 report from the Pentagon’s official tester, the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, reported earlier this month that a “combination of individual cargo-related deficiencies merited generation of a Category 1 emergency deficiency report against overall KC-46A cargo operations capability.” That deficiency rating has since been downgraded to Category 2, as reported by Air and Space Forces Magazine and confirmed through an Air Force Life Cycle Management Center spokesperson.
The AFLCMC spokesperson said resolution of the deficiency is expected in the third quarter of fiscal 2023. A spokesperson for Boeing declined to comment.
Whatever the shortcomings of the KC-46, they didn’t keep it from real-world operations. Boeing noted the plane was approved for global operations last year and took part in various military exercises. In addition to the US Air Force, Boeing is contracted with the armed forces of Japan and Israel for a small number of the tankers.
“The expanding global fleet creates commonality and interoperability efficiencies and mission-readiness advantages for the U.S. Air Force and allies,” the company said.