Boeing KC-46 tanker aircraft (image : usaf)
Sequestration Threatens Tanker Deal: USAF Official
The U.S. Air Force might have to cancel its contract with Boeing to buy refueling tankers if Congress fails to modify a law mandating federal spending cuts before January, according to a senior service official.
The announcement that the Pentagon might have to cancel the KC-46 contract and renegotiate a multibillion-dollar deal with Boeing is one of the most direct examples of how those budget reductions, know as sequestration, would impact the military.
“I don’t want to break my contract and I’m fearful sequestration may force me to do that,” Maj Gen John Thompson, tanker program executive officer and KC-46 program director, said during a Sept. 18 briefing with reporters at an Air Force Association-sponsored conference in National Harbor, Md.
Since the KC-46 contract award in February 2011, the Air Force has touted its ability to sign a fixed-price development contract for the initial batch of tankers, which are part of a 179-aircraft buy.
“If I have to break my fixed-price contract, then I stand the potential to lose out on some of the great things that we put in this vehicle up front,” Thompson said.
The KC-46 will replace part of the Air Force’s KC-135 Stratotanker fleet.
Earlier this summer, Singapore requested information about the KC-46 aircraft, Thompson said.
Like the U.S. Air Force, the Singapore Air Force flies KC-135 tankers.