The U.S. Air Force says that it is not sold on Boeing's proposal for how to fix the troublesome Remote Vision System, or RVS, which boom operators on the service's new KC-46A Pegasus tankers use to safely guide the aircraft's refueling boom into receiving aircraft.
The difficulties with the existing RVS presently preclude the KC-46As from taking part in combat operations overseas and top U.S. military officials are warning that there may soon be a worrying shortfall in available tankers, as other types get retired. That reality is now is driving renewed consideration of a plan to hire private contractors to provide aerial refueling services in various non-combat settings.
On Jan. 31, 2020, Aerospace Daily was first to report the news that the Air Force had balked at Boeing's plan to overhaul the RVS. In January 2019, the Chicago-headquartered plane maker agreed to develop a new version of the system, incorporating both software and hardware changes, and pay for that work entirely out of pocket.
At that time, the company estimated it would take between three and four years just to complete the development of these improvements, which would then still need to be integrated into existing aircraft. As of December 2019, the Air Force had taken delivery of 30 KC-46As already.
"The tanker is not capable of all of its missions and won’t be until the problems with the Remote Vision System are fixed," U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Jon Thomas, the Deputy Commander of Air Mobility Command, who also disclosed that the service was not happy with the proposed RVS plan, told Aerospace Daily. "It’s really hard for us to consider the KC-46 part of our operational capacity." (end of excerpt)
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