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US Air Force likely to issue KC-135 Recapitalisation RFI in September

A KC-46A Pegasus assigned to the 916th Air Refueling Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. The KC-135 Recapitalisation plan may be an uncontested KC-46 purchase, but recent comments suggest otherwise. (Senior Airman Kimberly Barrera)

The US Air Force (USAF) is likely to issue a request for information (RFI) on the KC-135 Tanker Recapitalisation programme in September, Deputy Executive Program Manager for Mobility Aircraft, Scott Boyd, told reporters on 1 August.

“We are right now working through the [Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System] process…We're projecting that to be finished by the end of September of this year,” Boyd said. “As soon as I get that validated requirement, then the air force plans to release a request for information to industry.”

“We'll use the information that comes back from that RFI to complete our business case analysis and determine what our acquisition strategy is. We've yet to determine that. [It] doesn't matter what any person, senior leader or otherwise, has said. We don't know what our acquisition strategy is,” Boyd added. “We expect a final approved strategy that we're around the third quarter of fiscal year 2024.”

The USAF had been widely expected to order 79 Boeing KC-46s to fulfil the KC-135 Recapitalisation requirement rather than hold a contest, following comments to that effect by Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall. Should it come to a contest, Lockheed Martin is likely to bid with its Airbus A330-derived LMXT.

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