The U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing Defense, Space & Security USD2.8 billion on August 18 for KC-46A multirole aircraft tanker low-rate initial production.

The award includes the first two “production lots” of 7 and 12 planes respectively, as well as spare parts. Including future options, Boeing plans to build a total of 179 of the Boeing 767-based refueling aircraft for the Air Force to replace their KC-135 Stratotanker fleet.

Boeing received an initial contract in 2011 to design and develop the aircraft. As part of that contract Boeing built four test aircraft – two configured as 767-2Cs and two as KC-46A tankers. The test aircraft have completed more than 1,000 flight hours to date.

The company will begin delivering tankers to the Air Force in 2017.

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