Boeing delivered the first KC-46A to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). The air refueling and transport aircraft is based on the 767-200 jet and was ordered in 2017.
Later, the government of Japan expanded the order to four aircraft, whose second jet is being assembled in Everett, in the state of Washington.
The purchase agreement was made through the US government’s Foreign Military Sales program, and Japan became the KC-46A’s first overseas customer.
“This is an exciting and historic moment for Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force and Boeing as Japan joins the United States with the world’s most advanced, proven and safe multi-mission combat aerial refueling capability,” said James Burgess, Boeing vice president and program manager, KC-46 Program. “We are looking forward to decades of partnership with our Japan customer to ensure aircraft mission effectiveness and enable the success of the JASDF.”
In addition to aerial refueling, the KC-46A can carry up to 18 standard pallets in its cargo hold, among other possible configurations.
Boeing claims that it has delivered 48 KC-46A to the US Air Force (USAF) since January 2019. The new tanker is replacing the KC-135 and KC-10, but its entry into service was quite complicated, with several problems during development.
The USAF has even launched a new competition, KC-Y, to acquire aerial refueling aircraft, with deliveries scheduled for 2029. Lockheed Martin, in partnership with Airbus, has already presented its bidder, the LMXT, an updated variant of the A330 MRTT.