The Boeing Co. has begun building aerial tankers for the U.S. Air Force after passing a critical design review this summer, a top executive said Tuesday.
Construction of the first two KC-46 planes, which refuel other warplanes during flight, is underway as part of the $52 billion project.
“I’m not sure how many people thought we could execute the program when we started a couple of years ago, and we today have met every single milestone,” Boeing Defense Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg said at the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit.
He added that the first 18 tankers would be delivered on schedule by 2017 under a contract signed with the Air Force in 2011. The remaining 161 tankers are scheduled to be delivered by 2028.
The tankers will replace the 50-year-old KC-135 platform. The program is one of the Pentagon’s largest weapons initiatives and has been closely scrutinized since a decade-long contest with France’s Airbus and a procurement scandal in the early 2000s.Reuters