Japanese KC-46A Tanker Completes First Refueling Mission

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Recently, the inaugural Boeing KC-46A tanker designated for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) achieved a significant milestone by conducting aerial refueling with another KC-46A aircraft over the skies of Washington state. In a successful exchange, the Japan-bound tanker also received fuel in return.

Jamie Burgess, the KC-46 program manager, explained the significance of this event for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, stating, “Refueling with the first Japan KC-46A is an important milestone for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.” Highlighting the KC-46A’s prowess, Burgess noted, “The KC-46A is the world’s most advanced air refueling aircraft and has already transferred more than 42 million gallons of fuel to other aircraft globally through its boom and drogue systems.”

Japan marks the first international customer for the KC-46 program and is slated to take delivery of its initial aircraft this year.

Will Shaffer, president of Boeing Japan, underscored the multifaceted capabilities of the KC-46A, stating, “State-of-the-art refueling makes the KC-46A a standout, but this tanker goes well beyond that.” Shaffer added, “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.”

The Japan KC-46A possesses the capability to refuel aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the JASDF.

Japanese KC-46A Tanker Completes First Refueling Mission

In December 2017, the U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a contract for the JASDF’s initial KC-46A tanker, facilitated through the Foreign Military Sale process between the U.S. government and Japan. Production for a second Japanese tanker is already underway.

Boeing is responsible for assembling the KC-46A aircraft for both the U.S. Air Force and Japan at its 767 production line located in Everett, Washington. Additionally, Boeing’s Japanese partners contributed to 16% of the KC-46A airframe structure production.

As a leading global aerospace company, Boeing develops, manufactures and services commercial airplanes, defense products and space systems for customers in more than 150 countries. As a top U.S. exporter, the company leverages the talents of a global supplier base to advance economic opportunity, sustainability and community impact. Boeing’s diverse team is committed to innovating for the future and living the company’s core values of safety, quality and integrity.


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