Thursday, July 13, 2017

The KC-46 Tanker Drama

Not many people has followed the Pegasus saga or it's formally known as the KC-46 Tanker as Boeing is testing and making for the US Air force. Long in the tooth is a fixed cost program coming in later than desired by the military. The first 19 were to be delivered in 2017. The Air Force has now ordered 35 without receiving its first copy. The Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) acronym is a buzz label for building stuff in slow motion until the manufacturer gets it dialed in for Full Rate Production (FRP). The Air Force has approved through 3 LRIP orders.

The Tanker testing and validation process is 90% complete. The tanker is configured with drogue and center line refueling points. The bigger  rigid, fly-by-wire refueling boom telescopes out to deliver 1200 gallons per minute The The tanker’s center line hose-and-drogue system and wing tip aerial refueling pods (WARP's) systems supplied by Cobham (Hall 2b E156) each offload fuel at 400 gallons per minute.Drogue lines are just like gasoline hoses at the pump but extend out at a safe distance for the war fighters needing fuel. These drogue delivery systems are currently a work in progress. The center line is ready for prime time.

Problems with design and wiring have tumbled the time to delivery backwards affecting the WARP's system. The WARP delivery phase will occur in early 2018 at this time. The Pegasus will start delivery at year's end 2017 without WARP testing complete. The first three KC-46 LRIP batches will flow forward quickly as Boeing now moves 20 in the production line at this time.

The program was 90 percent complete with the requirements of obtaining an amended type certificate from the FAA for the 767-2C baseline freighter with tanker-system provisions, and 60 percent complete toward securing a supplemental type certificate for the full KC-46 tanker.