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Air Platforms

Japan signs for second KC-46A tanker

07 December 2018
A pair of Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft parked at Paine Field near Seattle. Japan is the first export customer, having now signed for two aircraft. Source: IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

Japan has signed for the second of four Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft it plans to field from 2020.

A Foreign Military Sale (FMS) contract for a single aircraft for Japan was announced by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on 6 December, following the award of the first aircraft in December 2017. While that first award included support and was valued at USD279 million, this latest contract is for the aircraft only and is valued at USD159 million.

The first KC-46A is due to be delivered to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) in 2020, with this second aircraft to follow by 30 June 2021. However, with delays to Boeing's programme to deliver up to 179 KC-46As to the US Air Force (USAF), this schedule might be pushed back.

Japan selected the KC-46A under its KC-X aerial refuelling competition in October 2015. The JASDF is looking to acquire four new tankers to augment its current fleet of four Boeing KC-767J platforms, with the total value of the procurement expected to be USD1.9 billion.

The KC-46A is a 767-2C provisioned freighter with a 767-400 flight deck that features the Rockwell Collins large-format displays of the 787 airliner. Boeing has highlighted the almost tactical nature of its aircraft, with it being deployed 'closer to the fight' to better support expeditionary operations; being fitted with ballistic armour in the cockpit, passenger cabin, and fuel tanks; electro-magnetic pulse hardening; and nuclear, biological, and chemical protection.

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