As Boeing gears up for the Paris Air Show, its sales pitch to countries shopping for a new or first aerial tanker capability will be that the US Air Force will pay to keep the worldwide KC-46 fleet up to date, saving countries money and assuring them the product will have long-term support.
In a briefing for international journalists on May 15, Boeing KC-46 and P-8 international sales director Matt Carreon said the Air Force is committed to a buy of at least 179 KC-46s, and supporting them with upgrades and modifications “for the next 30-plus years.” If a customer were to buy a tanker that didn’t have a large worldwide fleet, each customer would have to pay to develop upgrades, modifications, and new capabilities, he said. While the customer would pay for installations, the Air Force will develop the fleetwide enhancements at its own expense.
“We tell customers that’s the reason you buy the KC-46,” Carreon said. “If you buy a different tanker, a one-off, …who’s going to pay for that certification” of receiver aircraft types, and maintain certifications into the future? “The KC-46 will be certified for 64 aircraft, and any other aircraft the US Air Force deems appropriate,” he said, noting USAF will pay for performing those certifications, even those of aircraft it doesn’t operate, because of the value of being interoperable with allies.
That means there’s a lot of cost avoidance for customers choosing the Pegasus, he argued. Allies can also be assured that “Boeing will be there” to support the product for decades, and customers won’t have to worry about logistical and technical support evaporating.
Carreon declined to discuss quality control issues experienced with the KC-46 relative to its remote viewing system or foreign objects left in aircraft during manufacture. “Every aircraft has its problems,” he said, insisting that Boeing and the Air Force “will handle those.” (end of excerpt)
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