Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, military deputy of the U.S. Air Force’s acquisition office, has said Boeing has begun a schedule risk evaluation and will update the service branch by the first week of June whether the KC-46 tanker aircraft program will face another phase of schedule delays, Defense News reported Tuesday.
“Boeing’s design of several subsystems and production of conformed hardware are still pending [Federal Aviation Administration] approval, which is slowing flight test execution,” Bunch said in a written testimony Thursday before a House Armed Services subpanel.
He noted that several test planes are still integrating design changes and that Boeing is likely to hand over the first aircraft by Sept. 12.
Bunch also called on lawmakers to support further modernization work on the KC-135 aircraft and provide sufficient funds for the development of KC-Y and KC-Z planes as follow-on aircraft programs to KC-46A since the 179 new tankers will only replace less than half of the Air Force’s existing fleet of KC-135 and KC-10 aircraft.
His testimony came two months after the Government Accountability Office released a report, which showed a 14-month delay in the delivery of the first 18 KC-46 tanker planes and nine air refueling pods.