Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. celebrated completion of the first forward fuselage section, Section 41, for the new Boeing KC-46A tanker. Boeing and U.S. Air Force representatives joined Spirit leadership and employees to mark the occasion on Friday.
"Right now we the fly KC-135R models and they are great and give gas all over the world. We need to recapitalize the fleet,” Maj. Gen. John Thompson said on Friday. Thompson is the U.S. Air Force Program Executive Officer for Tankers. “We need something better and newer. The KC-46A is the answer. You all are part of the program and on the team. The stability of the program is fantastic. I am counting on you to deliver these planes on time and with high quality so our warfighters can safely, efficiently and effectively do their job to protect our freedom.”
Meanwhile, Spirit announced Thursday they plan to layoff approximately 360 employees, “a strategic move to make the company more competitive in a cost-sensitive environment.”
In June 2011, Spirit was announced as a supplier on the KC-46 program. The company is responsible for the forward fuselage section, strut and nacelle components, and the fixed leading edge for the KC-46A tanker. Spirit manufactures the Section 41 and strut and nacelle components at its Wichita, Kan. facility. Production of the KC-46A is integrated directly into the Boeing 767 commercial production line at Boeing's Everett facility.
Boeing has announced it will build 179 next-generation aerial refueling tanker aircraft that will begin to recapitalize the Air Force's fleet of 416 KC-135 tankers. Based on the proven Boeing 767 commercial airplane, the KC-46 tanker is a widebody, multi-mission aircraft updated with the latest and most advanced technology to meet the demanding mission requirements of the future.