Boeing announced on July 1st, 2013, that it had begun assembly of the first part of the KC-46 tanker aircraft (Engineering and Manufacturing Development version), destined for the US Air Force.
The US Air Force is about a third of the way into the KC-46 tanker development program. It is to acquire 179 KC-46 tankers to begin replacing the more than 50-year-old KC-135 fleet. The initial delivery target is for 18 tankers by 2017. Production will then ramp up to deliver all 179 tankers by 2028.
The aircraft being produced at the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington is a commercial derivative design based on the Boeing 767-200ER passenger aircraft. When the aircraft comes off the Everett production line, it will be a 767-2C Provisioned Freighter that will eventually become a military-configured KC-46 tanker.
The first fully equipped KC-46 is slated to fly in early 2015.