The U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a $2.3 billion contract award to purchase 15 additional KC-46A Pegasus tankers, the aircraft manufacturer announced.
The deal increases current global orders for the aerial refuelers to 153 aircraft, Boeing said.
“We appreciate our partnership with the U.S. Air Force, which allows for the expansion of the capacity and capability of the KC-46A fleet,” Lynn Fox, vice president and KC-46 program manager, said in a statement. “We understand the advantages that KC-46 capabilities give the warfighters, and in the current global environment, we continue to focus our investments on evolving the aircraft for the changing needs of the mission.”
In October, Boeing delivered the 70th KC-46A to the Air Force.
According to Major General Corey Martin, commander of the 18th Air Force, the aircraft is more than just an air refueler. “It’s the connections. It’s the sensors. It’s the survivability. It’s the Tactical Situational Awareness System,” Martin said at an event marking the delivery. “(The KC-46A) has radios that will link this mobility aircraft to bombers, fighters, intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, to space, to special operations. It has systems that will detect and avoid radar-guided surface-to-air threats; systems that will detect and defeat infrared-guided surface-to-air threats, all while maneuvering our joint force closer to contested airspace than any KC aircraft has done in the past.”
Earlier this year, the Air Force awarded Boeing a $184 million contract for KC-46A Block 1 upgrades, which include line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight communications with anti jamming and encryption features.