In 2011, Boeing won a contract from the Air Force to develop a next-generation aerial refueling tanker subsequently designated the KC-46 Pegasus. With most of the developmental risk now retired, the program is turning into a smashing success. The Government Accountability Office says it will meet all performance requirements while costing 14% less than originally expected. In fact, Pegasus is looking to be such a game-changer for the Air Force that it may end up replacing all 470 tankers in the Air Mobility Command’s refueling fleet, even though it officially is only replacing the oldest third of the planes. If the Air Force actually were to buy a pure Pegasus fleet, and the new tankers remained in service as long as the oldest legacy tankers are likely to, then KC-46 could be supporting the joint force well into the next century. That would make it a hundred-year franchise for Boeing, fully justifying the aggressive bid that won Boeing the program. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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