MUKILTEO, Wash., May 9 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force has completed a Preliminary Design Review of Boeing's KC-46 aerial refueling tanker, allowing it to proceed to the next step of development.
The review was conducted in March and April and showed the aircraft's preliminary design met Air Force requirements.
"I'm happy with Boeing's performance," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Chris Bogdan, KC-46 program executive officer. "They're maintaining a very tight focus on meeting commitments and staying on or ahead of schedule.
"The program remains on a good path. This is important news for the nation's warfighters, because it reaffirms our commitment to delivering the KC-46A tanker on schedule."
Boeing plans to deliver 18 mission-ready KC-46s, which will replace the service's aging fleet of KC-135s, in 2017. A total of 179 KC-46s are to be built.
The KC-46 is based on Boeing's 767 jetliner. It will have a maximum fuel transfer load of more than 207,000 pounds and a range of more than 6,300 nautical miles.
With the successful PDR Boeing will proceed with detailed designing of the aircraft and the Critical Design Review next summer. That review is the gateway to manufacturing the plane.
"The KC-46 team is designing an aircraft that will offer superior, modern multi-role capabilities for the warfighter, including advanced refueling systems and military avionics, and the ability to transport cargo, passengers and patients," said Maureen Dougherty, Boeing KC-46 Tanker vice president and program manager. "Working closely with our Air Force teammates, we've made tremendous progress in the past 14 months and have the foundation in place to enter the detailed design phase."