In the last week of November 2022, the Boeing company was awarded a contract to deliver two additional KC-46A Pegasus air tankers for the Japan Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF). Therefore, the Japanese fleet of KC-46A will grow to six aircraft.
Based on a contract concluded in December of 2017, the first KC-46A was delivered to the JASDF in October of 2021. Therefore, Japan became the first foreign operator of the new Boeing air tanker. Nevertheless, the JASDF did not just end with a sole KC-46A and progressively used all additional options included in the initial agreement.
In 2018, Japan executed the possibility to add one more air tanker to its fleet (the aircraft was delivered in February of 2022), then followed by the option for third and fourth KC-46A, used in December of 2018. Now, a new contract was signed, covering the delivery of two more aircraft of that type.
´This additional KC-46A acquisition reinforces the U.S.-Japan security alliance to support security and stability throughout the Pacific region´, said Will Shaffer, president of Boeing Japan. ´Boeing is proud of our enduring partnership with Japan, and we look forward to supporting the nation’s KC-46A fleet that will fly for decades to come.´
The Boeing company has already delivered sixty seven KC-46A tankers – sixty five to the United States Air Force and two to JASDF. The aircraft was built on basis of Boeing 767 airframe, the well-known airliner manufactured in more than 1,200 examples and introduced in 1982.
Worth noting is the fact that Boeing’s Japanese partners are producing 16 percent of the KC-46A airframe structure.
Apart from the KC-46A, the JASDF also operates four earlier generation air tankers, also built by Boeing and based on the 767 – KC-767, as well as two KC-130H, that are based on the C-130 Hercules airlifter.
Cover photo: First KC-46A for Japan flies first refueling flight (Boeing photo by Kevin Flynn). All photos © Boeing. Information from The Boeing Company press releases were used.