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Oklahoma-bound tanker could be delayed by a year

Defense News is reporting that the U.S. Air Force is considering what penalties to levy against Boeing after the latest delay in production of a new tanker aircraft that will be based and serviced in Oklahoma.

The aircraft manufacturer had been scheduled to deliver the first 18 planes to the U.S. Air Force by August 2017. But the project has been plagued by setbacks, including wiring design issues and problems with the plane's aerial refueling system. Those issues led to production delays, forcing Boeing to speed up its production schedule to make up for lost time.

Now, Air Force officials say the first aircraft may not be delivered until August 2017 and the 18th might not be completed until January 2018.

Nicknamed the Pegasus, the KC-46 is expected to have a major Oklahoma presence. Altus Air Force Base will serve as a training site for crews, while Tinker Air Force Base will provide maintenance once the plane is operational. Tinker is also one of four bases being considered as a possible site for the planes to be based.

The new tanker, which is a militarized version of the Boeing 767, features a multi-point refueling system that will allow it to refuel two smaller planes at once. The plane's cargo deck also includes space for three times as much cargo and twice as many passengers as the KC-135, the aircraft the Pegasus is designed to replace.

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Phillip O'Connor

O'Connor joined the Oklahoman staff in June, 2012 after working at The Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch for a combined 28 years. O'Connor, an Oklahoma City resident, is a graduate of Kansas State University. He has written frequently... Read more ›