Boeing said Monday Japan is the first foreign customer under the KC-46 program and the tanker built for the country can also refuel the aircraft of the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps in addition to JASDF.
In December 2017, the USAF contracted Boeing to create the KC-46A tanker for Japan under the Foreign Military Sale program. The contract for a second KC-46 was awarded to the company in 2018 and the production is already ongoing, according to Boeing.
Subsequently, the Air Force exercised the option for the JASDF’s third and fourth tankers in December 2020.
“The ability to carry cargo and passengers while maintaining tactical situational awareness makes the aircraft a critical tool in the security alliance between the U.S. and Japan,” said Will Shaffer, president of Boeing Japan.
Boeing is doing the aircraft assembly for the USAF and Japan on its 767 production line in Everett, Washington. The Japanese partners of the company are in charge of making 16 percent of the tanker’s airframe structure.
Japan is expected to receive the first tanker in 2021.