USAF suspends acceptance of KC-46s

Boeing’s deliveries of KC-46 tanker to the U.S. Air Force have been suspended as the service investigates a series of problems with foreign object debris, its top acquisition official confirmed Friday.

Will Roper, the service’s assistant secretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics, told reporters that it will likely be “some time” before the service begins accepting new tankers from Boeing.

Problems with foreign object debris led to a weeklong grounding at a key Boeing plant.

“I was able to get some data from our team on the foreign object debris that’s being experienced on the KC-46 line. It’s still to be determined how extensive and how far into the production line it goes,” he said.

“It boils down to process, culture, and leadership in making systems. A trip to Boeing is almost certainly going to be necessary for me to approve DD250s again,” he added, using the Defense Department’s term for accepting an aircraft.

During a Thursday afternoon roundtable with reporters, Roper said that the Air Force had grounded planes for about a week due to concerns about tools and other foreign object debris left in the aircraft — a potential safety hazard. The issue was first reported by The Seattle Times.