NEW DELHI: The first Boeing KC-46 tanker destined for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) took to the skies on its maiden flight yesterday.
This successful flight highlights an important milestone as the aircraft now transitions into the certification phase of development.
“This is an exciting milestone for the JASDF and Boeing,” said Jamie Burgess, KC-46 program manager.
“Japan is getting closer to receiving the most advanced air refueling tanker in the world,” he added.
Japan is the KC-46 program’s first international customer and is scheduled to receive its first jet this year.
“Boeing’s KC-46 and its robust defensive systems will play an invaluable role in the security alliance between our two countries,” said Will Shaffer, president of Boeing Japan.
“This tanker’s ability to carry cargo and passengers also makes it a critical tool to support humanitarian relief efforts across the Pacific region and beyond,” he added.
The KC-46 refueling certification encompasses U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and JASDF aircraft.
The U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a $279 million contract for the JASDF’s first KC-46A tanker in December 2017. The agreement was completed through the Foreign Military Sale process between the U.S. government and Japan. Japan is now on contract for a total of four KC-46 tankers.
Boeing is assembling KC-46A aircraft for both the U.S. Air Force and Japan on its 767 production line in Everett, Washington. Boeing’s Japanese partners produce 16% of the KC-46 airframe structure.