Air Platforms

Pratt to ramp up KC-46A engine production

21 May 2014
An artist's impression of a KC-46A tanking a B-2 stealth bomber. Source: USAF

United Technologies' Pratt & Whitney military engines unit is preparing to increase production of a PW4000 commercial derivative for the US Air Force's (USAF's) Boeing KC-46A aerial refuelling tanker at its Hartford, Connecticut factory.

"We have delivered seven engines," Bennett Croswell, president of Pratt & Whitney's military engines business, told IHS Jane's on 20 May.

Croswell said the company will now begin producing 30-35 engines per year through the programme's projected completion in 2027.

The PW4062 features a few minor changes to the commercial PW4000, primarily additional electromagnetic interference hardening, said Croswell.

The company will deliver 368 engines to the USAF. Croswell added that Pratt & Whitney is now supporting prime contractor Boeing as they investigate potential international sales.

"A lot of our focus now is working with Boeing on international issues, primarily Korea," he said. "So we're supporting Boeing on that endeavour."

South Korea has been studying plans to buy four aerial refuelling tankers.

The USAF completed a critical design review of the KC-46A ahead of schedule last year. Since then, Boeing has been building four engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) aircraft. Those platforms will be used to support flight testing, which is set to begin in the coming weeks.

The first fully equipped KC-46A is projected to fly in early 2015. The USAF's contract with Boeing is expected to deliver 179 tankers by 2028.



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