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Boeing expects a new KC-46A tanker deal around year's end

The war in Ukraine and cargo capabilities in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic are helping drive the international demand for Boeing KC-46A tankers. (Kevin Flynn)

A new Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker deal is likely to be reached by end of this year or early next year, Mike Hafer, Boeing's head of sales for the KC-46A, told reporters on 15 June.

Hafer said that an announcement is “imminent” from a customer who was in contract talks before the start of the Ukraine conflict. However, the war in Ukraine is driving up interest in the KC-46A from other customers.

“Russian aggression has stimulated business,” Hafer said. “There are several countries that have always been lukewarm that have now said ‘Hey, what does your line look like?'”

Meanwhile, other countries have shown increased interest in the tanker's cargo capabilities amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Hafer said that six international customers have shown interest in the KC-46A since January 2020. The tanker can carry up to 65,000 lbs of cargo, according to Boeing.

The tanker uses a modified commercial Boeing 767 body and can hold three times more cargo pallets than the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, which it is replacing.

“We can do 17 [KC-46As] per year and we've got that protracted out through 2029, and I fully expect that to go beyond,” Hafer said. Boeing is building 12 tankers per month.

Hafer said that he expects 42 more tankers to be sold to international customers on top of what has already been contracted.

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