Boeing is building 179 new air refueling tankers for the U-S Air Force.
The factory in Western Washington is turning 767's into KC-46 air tankers. Fairchild Air Force Base has already been passed up for these new refuelers twice, but hopefully the base will get them eventually.
For now, Fairchild will continue operations for its three fly squads using KC-135s, which have been around for about 60 years.
Friday, Boeing allowed media a first ever tour inside the Everett factory that is turning 767s into KC-46 air refueling tankers.
In the early days of these tankers, the operator would lay on their stomach and guide the boom to the receiving airplane by looking through a window. But on a KC-46... the operator will now sit before a wrap-around bank of screens connected to cameras... many of which are infrared.
"It’s a game changer from the stand of turning night into day,” sead Sean Martin, a Boeing Flight Refueling tester:
The KC-46 can also refuel planes at night, using 3D cameras, and even defend itself against missiles.
The boom, which feeds a jet its fuel.... can deliver more than 1,300 gallons of fuel per minute. In other words, it could fill the tank of a large truck in seconds.
The plane also carries up to 18 pallets of cargo, up to 100 troops and can transport wounded soldiers.
Even though Fairchild isn't scheduled for the first 18 of these new refuelers, it could still be in the running for future jets yet to be built.