Boeing will enhance the KC-46A advanced communications capabilities through a Block 1 upgrade under a $184 million contract awarded by the US Air Force.
Upgrades include line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight communications technologies with antijamming and encryption features. These capabilities are expected to further enhance the data and communications connectivity the KC-46A provides to joint and allied forces for battlespace situational awareness.
According to Boeing, the KC-46A already offers more secure communications and more data integration than any tanker, giving the crew and fleet situational awareness for real-time decision making. By delivering data as well as fuel to the joint force, the KC-46A is said to be transforming the role of the tanker for the 21st century and will continue to expand its battlespace network capabilities, including Advanced Battle Management System integration.
“This upgrade demonstrates long-term investment from Boeing and the Air Force,” said James Burgess, vice president and KC-46 program manager. “The KC-46A is built to integrate cutting-edge capabilities directly into the DNA of the aircraft as the needs of the mission evolve.”
In 2022, the US Air Force Mobility Command (AMC) approved the KC-46A for global combat operations. The KC-46A has demonstrated connectivity and situational awareness in operation that AMC leaders described as game changing.
Boeing builds KC-46A aircraft on the 767 production line in Everett, Wash. The company has delivered 69 KC-46A tankers to the U.S. Air Force and two to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, and is on contract to deliver four KC-46A tankers to the Israel Air Force.
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