U.S. Air Force receives first Boeing KC-46 tanker, featuring nose-to-tail content from Collins Aerospace

Collins Aerospace has joined Boeing in celebrating the recent delivery of the first KC-46 fuel tanker aircraft to the U.S. Air Force (USAF). As a replacement for the aging USAF tanker fleet, the KC-46 features a comprehensive suite of content from Collins Aerospace that will bring next-generation mission capabilities to aircrews with improved safety.

Leveraging proven commercial technology from the 787 Dreamliner, Collins Aerospace designed an integrated flight deck system that will also transform the flight experience for KC-46 pilots. The flight deck features four 15.1-inch diagonal liquid crystal displays that can each show two independently controlled windows to accommodate multiple display functions. The enhanced viewing capability delivers significantly higher levels of reliability and safety.

“The KC-46 flight deck is a prime example of our proven ability to missionize commercial technologies, providing pilots with industry-leading tools for improved mission success and enabling the Armed Forces to implement a cost-effective and easily upgradable solution,” said Kent Statler, president, Avionics for Collins Aerospace.

“The capabilities we're bringing to Boeing and the Air Force on this important platform provide a whole new level of situational awareness to our Air Force tankers,” said Dave Schreck, vice president and general manager, Military Avionics and Helicopters for Collins Aerospace. “It’s been very rewarding to be a part of the team developing and fielding this tremendous capability, and enabling many successful missions in the future.”

The KC-46 features a complete set of situational awareness, safety and flight system solutions from Collins Aerospace including:

  • Tactical Situational Awareness System (TSAS) processor built on a Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC)-certified system that provides situational awareness to the crew, routing cues to avoid imminent threats in the area and awareness of friendly entities
  • Autopilot flight director system, navigation sensors, communication radios, signal data converter network, onboard maintenance system and data transfer unit
  • Air management systems
  • Power generation and ram air turbine
  • Evacuation slides, seating and external lighting
  • Landing gear
  • Air data and temperature sensors, fire protection systems, fuel management system, ice detection and specialty heaters

The KC-46 was based on Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe and is built in the company’s Everett, Wash., facility. Boeing is currently on contract for the first 52 of an expected 179 tankers to be delivered to the Air Force.

Collins Aerospace has a rich history of supporting refueling tankers, such as the KC-135 and KC-10, and has played a large role in keeping them operational, maintaining flight standards and meeting pilot expectations.

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