When Boeing won the contract to build the Air Force’s next-generation KC-46 tanker in 2011, its focus was almost entirely on developing a game-changing aerial refueler. With the Air Force’s announcement last week that it will begin taking deliveries of the plane, that goal appears to have been met. So in addition to producing 15 tankers per year — the rate specified in the program of record — Boeing can now begin thinking more expansively about other opportunities associated with the program. Among the possibilities: an accelerated production rate; follow-on Air Force buys taking the total production run to 500 airframes; a sizable role in sustaining fielded tankers; modifications and upgrades to the baseline design; and foreign sales to countries like India, Japan and Saudi Arabia. I have written a commentary about the five biggest opportunities beyond what Boeing has already won for Forbes here.
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