24 Feb 16. AFA 2016: Boeing offers F-15C upgrades to USAF. Key Points:
• Boeing is marketing upgrades for the USAF’s F-15C combat aircraft
• The upgrades would allow the USAF to boost the firepower and detection capability of legacy F-15Cs, as well as improve interoperability with newer jets
Boeing is offering the US Air Force (USAF) a series of life-extension modifications to its F-15C Eagles that would allow the aircraft to better complement the service’s stealthy Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.
Dubbed the “F-15 2040C” series of upgrades, the effort would double the number of air-to-air missiles the aircraft carries, extend its range, and upgrade its electronics, company officials told IHS Jane’s ahead of the Air Force Association’s annual conference. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
24 Feb 16. Boeing racing clock to deliver 18 KC-46 tankers by next August. The narrow window for Boeing to deliver 18 operational KC-46A Pegasus tankers to the US Air Force by August 2017 includes little to no room for error and a series of tests and events must go right to achieve that significant contractual milestone.
The $5bn development programme is about eight months behind its original schedule after facing a number of setbacks, but company officials have committed to achieving the “required assets available” milestone, meaning 18 jets delivered to two air force bases between March and August next year.
But while USAF officials applaud that ambitions goal, they say in an interview with Flightglobal that schedule – not cost or technical difficulties – is the next-generation tanker project’s main challenge. Even if those tankers are in place by August, Air Mobility Command (AMC) won’t have had enough time with the 767-2C-based tankers to declare initial operational capability on time.
USAF programme executive officer for tankers Gen Duke Richardson says Boeing had planned to begin delivering aircraft over 12 months starting this August but to account for delays in passing the milestone C review means 18 deliveries will be phased over six months.
“[AMC commander Gen Carlton Everhart] is not going to declare it until they’re ready to take the KC-46 to war,” says Richardson. “It’s going to take them a little while to ramp up. IOC is not a contractual requirement, it’s really a warfighter requirement.”
Only two aircraft currently flying in support of FAA type certification and aerial refuelling demonstration and the first KC-46A recently passed fuel to an F-16 and F/A-18 and then received fuel from a KC-10. The developmental tanker must now refuel an AV-8B, A-10 and C-17 to satisfy a “milestone C” decision review board that had planned to convene in April, but is now tracking toward early May.
Until then, the air force cannot award the first two low-rate production contracts for 7 and 12 aircraft to satisfy the required assets milestone. Boeing must also delivery enough spare parts and engines and correct any technical deficiencies revealed in ground and flight testing.
“Those must all happen by August of 2017, so there’s certainly a lot of pressure there,” says Richardson. “EMD-2 and EMD-4, by the way, are needed to get through the system verification review quickly. If we have four aircraft flying, we can burn through those reviews faster than with just two aircraft.”
The programme’s favourable contract terms mean the air force is doing everything in its power to uphold its end of the bargain by programming enough funds across its latest five-year spending plan to purchase 15 aircraft per year, with annual lots expected to be awarded each January.
“Through the contract that was competed, we the government get rewarded for stability,” says Richardson. “Our best price point is actually 15 aircraft per year. Our plan is to awarded Lot 3 in January of next year.”
Col John Newberry, who took over as the air force KC-46A programme manager on 8 February, says his team is “laser-focused” on achieving milestone C and graduating from development to