The U.S. Air Force is upholding its full commitment to the KC-46A refueling tanker being built at Boeing's Everett facility, Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, said today. Larsen is a member of the House Armed Services Committee which oversees the Defense Department acquisition programs. The Committee heard testimony today from top Air Force officials who said the tanker program is "currently executing as planned" and is the "top Air Force acquisition priority."
"I welcome the Air Force's reaffirmed commitment to move forward on the tanker program," Larsen said. "Not only is the new tanker a key national strategic asset, it will provide thousands of good-paying jobs in Snohomish County. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will make sure the Air Force follows through on its commitment."
In prepared joint testimony, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III said the Air Force plans to conduct initial test flights of the aircraft in 2014 or 2015:
"Replacing one-third of the 50 year-old KC-135 aerial refueling tanker fleet with the KC-46A is our top Air Force acquisition priority," the officials wrote. "The KC-46A program will ensure that our Nation retains a tanker fleet able to provide crucial air refueling capacity worldwide for decades to come. In FY14, we programmed $1.6 billion dollars for the manufacture of four developmental aircraft. The initial flights of the KC-46A test aircraft are scheduled to begin in FY14. The program is currently executing as planned, and we are on track to receive 18 operational aircraft by late FY17."
Separately this week the commander of the Air Force's Air Mobility Command reiterated the Air Force's commitment to keeping the tanker program on schedule.