Deary, deary me, still no signed off plan, just a hope for the end of March. To the uninitiated it reads like that is when the solution rolls out or even the summer. Ha ha.
WASHINGTON — After more than a year of deliberations, the U.S. Air Force is hoping to have a fix in hand for the KC-46 tanker’s most critical technical problem by the end of March, the service’s top general told Defense News in an exclusive interview.
The hope is for the Air Force and Boeing to sign off next month on a finalized design for the KC-46’s Remote Vision System, or RVS — a series of cameras and sensors that allow its users to steer the aircraft’s boom into a plane for aerial refueling.
“The fact [is] that we’re in negotiations right now; I can’t say anything that would affect those negotiations,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein said in a Feb. 18 interview.
“Here’s what I will tell you: They’re not stagnant in any way, shape or form. It’s a very active dialogue. We’re working on getting a serious fix,” he said. “We’re looking for a serious fix on the table by the end of March, and we’re going to be flying that fix and starting to test it by the end of this summer.”
For several years, the KC-46 program has grappled with a critical deficiency involving the RVS, which is manufactured by Rockwell Collins. Under certain lighting conditions, the imagery is difficult to see and sometimes distorted, making it difficult for operators to safely move the boom without scraping the aircraft receiving fuel.
Despite ongoing RVS problems, the service and Boeing came to a compromise in late 2018 that would allow the aerospace firm to begin delivering the KC-46 if the company would swallow the cost of fixing the system to the Air Force’s specifications.
At the time, Boeing and the service agreed on nine performance areas where the Air Force wanted to see improvements, but the parties have been embroiled in debate for months over how to turn those into technical requirements that would allow Boeing engineers to make specific hardware and software changes to the RVS design.
The first tanker was delivered in January 2019, but months later in September, Air Mobility Command head Gen. Maryanne Miller said Boeing had made no progress on the RVS and that it would take three to four years before the KC-46 was technically mature enough to deploy.
More at link.