Boeing has received Milestone C approval from Defense Department acquisition chief Frank Kendall for the KC-46A Pegasus aircraft the company will build to support aerial refueling operations of the U.S. Air Force.
The Air Force said Friday it will award Boeing a pair of contracts within 30 days to manufacture the first two KC-46A low-rate initial production batches.
Both contracts have a combined potential value of $2.8 billion and cover the delivery of 19 aircraft units along with associated spare parts, according to the military service.
The Air Force expects Boeing to deliver a total of 18 tankers to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas and Altus AFB in Oklahoma by early 2018.
DoD issued the Milestone C decision after Boeing and the Air Force demonstrated Pegasus’ refueling function with the F-16 Fighting Falcon, C-17 Globemaster III, A-10 Thunderbolt II, AV-8 Harriar II and F/A-18 Hornet platforms.
The KC-46A still needs to undergo Federal Aviation Administration and military certification flight tests in order to be included in the Air Force and DoD aircraft inventory, the service branch noted.