Boeing have announced that they have started assembling Japan’s first KC-46A tanker, loading a 82.4-foot long wing spar in the company’s 767 production facility.

“This is an exciting day for the program and we look forward to building and delivering these multi-role tankers to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF),” said Jamie Burgess, Boeing vice president and KC-46 program manager in a release.

“From the enhanced flight deck to the modernized boom, this tanker will provide unmatched capabilities for Japan.”

Boeing was awarded a Foreign Military Sale contract for one KC-46A aircraft and logistics services in December 2017. The U.S. Air Force exercised an option for Japan’s second aircraft in December 2018.

“We’re proud to support the JASDF with a production line that emphasizes quality, efficiency and safety,” added Bruce Dickinson, Boeing 747/767 vice president and general manager.

Boeing is assembling KC-46A aircraft for both the U.S. Air Force and Japan on its 767 production line in Everett. Following initial assembly, workers install the tanker’s military unique systems at the site’s Modification Center. The jets are then flight tested at Boeing Field prior to delivery.

Boeing began developing the KC-46A for the U.S. Air Force in 2011 and delivered the first tanker in January 2019. Japan is the programme’s first international customer. Deliveries to the JASDF will begin in 2021.

In March, the USAF announced it was reviewing KC-46 training after the Boeing 737 MAX groundings, as the KC-46 uses a similar Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) to that implicated in two 737 MAX crashes. The US Air Force subsequently stated that “The KC-46 has protections that ensure pilot manual inputs have override priority” and that it “does not fly the models of aircraft involved in the recent accidents” and that it is “reviewing our procedures and training as part of our normal and ongoing review process.”

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Andrew r

I’d be surprised if they accept them the way they are
The amount of issues the usaf is having with theirs is rediculous.


I thought it was only the boom and camera system for the boom that was the issue, just had a read the cargo latch system failure is absolutely mental especially as if I read it correctly it’s medical airlift system is pallet based


The USAF has refused delivery of some of the KC-46A aircraft. When inspected, these aircraft were found to have several “foreign objects” (tools, and other such objects from the people building them) onboard. If Boeing’s QA team missed them prior to delivery, what else was missed?

Doug Scott

You’ve just got to love that corporate comms statement – ““We’re proud to support the JASDF with a production line that emphasizes quality, efficiency and safety.” From a company that in 2008 protested the award to the EADS / Northrop award on the basis that the Air Force hadn’t properly evaluated the bids. And…they still cannot get their s..t together.


Out of interest does anyone know what is the better system for air-to-air refueling the fixed boom or the RAF method. What are the advantages and disadvanteges of both methods?
Might be for some a stupid question but I am tryiong to understand why the US and Uk have such diffrent concepts.


The aircraft can do drogue and boom refuelling. Boom has a higher through put so it is quicker… however,…and on the KC 46 there are over 500 however’s. The boom cannot refuel the A10 because the boom aerodynamics dont work at the slow speed an A 10 refuels at. This is a spec issue that the USAF has put its hand up to and will pay for the fix. The boom is controlled via 3d cameras and an operator wearing 3d glasses. It doesn’t work correctly and could take 3-4 years to fix. the boom has hit aircraft and the… Read more »


So one big clusterf**k then!


I remember Airbus offering to loan the USAF MRTTs whilst they’re waiting on the KC46 fixes. Funnily enough the offer was not taken up. The MRTT has boom and drogues (though not the RAF ones?). The aircraft did have a few teething problems, but these have all now been sorted and the aircraft is very reliable.