An Air Force official said he’s ‘not comfortable’ saying the tanker’s first flight will happen next month, but he expects it before the end of June.
Boeing’s tanker program is delayed again, with the tanker’s first flight pushed out by as much as two months.
That flight had earlier been projected to happen in April. But at a conference Tuesday in Washington, D.C., the Air Force’s program director for the KC-46A Pegasus tanker said he’s “not comfortable” saying the tanker will make that schedule, according to a report in Defense News.
“I feel more comfortable saying second quarter,” which extends to the end of June, U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Duke Richardson told the audience, Defense News reported.
Boeing committed to submit a detailed revised tanker program schedule to the Air Force last month, but its specifics are not public.
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Air Force spokesman Daryl Mayer confirmed via e-mail the new “second quarter” timeline.
A prototype tanker airframe — a modified 767 commercial aircraft without the refueling systems to make it a tanker — flew in late December, six months behind Boeing’s original schedule.
The now-delayed first flight of a true tanker is the next big milestone.
The contract calls for Boeing to receive $51 billion for delivering 179 tankers to the Air Force, with the first 18 tankers ready to deploy in 2017.
In the program’s initial development phase, the jetmaker is responsible for cost overruns above a contract ceiling of $4.9 billion.
In December, the Air Force reported that its latest projection for the cost of the tanker’s development had swelled to $1.5 billion above that contract ceiling.