The first KC-46 tanker for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) flew for the first time on Monday, said Boeing. The aircraft, based on the 767-200 commercial jet, is part of a four-unit order signed in 2017 for $279 million.
Japan is the first foreign customer of the KC-46A and is due to receive the first aircraft in 2021. Currently, the US Air Force (USAF) is the sole operator of the tanker, which is replacing the old KC-135 and KC -10.
“This is an exciting milestone for the JASDF and Boeing,” said Jamie Burgess, KC-46 program manager. “Japan is getting closer to receiving the most advanced air refueling tanker in the world.”
“This tanker’s ability to carry cargo and passengers also makes it a critical tool to support humanitarian relief efforts across the Pacific region and beyond,” said Will Shaffer, president of Boeing Japan.
The agreement with Japan was made through the USAF in the Foreign Military Sale process between the U.S. government and Japan. The KC-46A program also has Japanese suppliers that produce 16% of the airframe structure.