Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Welsh ‘Confident’ in F-35, ‘Disappointed’ in KC-46 Delay

Gen. Mark Welsh, the outgoing Air Force Chief of Staff, is confident the F-35A joint strike fighter will be declared operational before the end of the year, but remains “disappointed” that Boeing has been unable to develop the KC-46 tanker on time.
In an exclusive interview with Defense News, Welsh also described the idea of new F-22 production as “cost prohibitive,” throwing water on the idea of a Raptor restart.
During his tenure as chief of staff, Welsh has consistently identified three major modernization programs for the service: the F-35A, KC-46A and what is now known as the B-21 bomber. And during his tenure, all three programs hit major milestones.
Of those three, the biggest challenge at the moment is the Boeing made KC-46A Pegasus tanker.
Last month, the Air Force announced Boeing would miss a deadline to have 18 tankers ready to go by August of 2017. Instead, those 18 aircraft will be ready come January 2018, barring any further delays. The company has already been hit with $1.5 billion in cost overruns; the development contract it is operating under caps the Air Force's liability at $4.9 billion, with the company having to eat the rest.  more