KC-46 refueling system flaws will take years to fix and cost hundreds of millions

New designs will be required to fix some of the issues with the refueling boom and the remote vision system on the Air Force’s new KC-46 Pegasus tanker, and that could take years to fix, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Wednesday.

The refueling boom on the Pegasus could inadvertently scratch fighter jets’ stealth coatings, or otherwise damage aircraft, according to the GAO.

The good news is that the cost of delivering all 179 KC-46 tankers is now expected to come in at $43 billion, or nearly $9 billion cheaper than originally estimated in 2011, GAO said in the report. More, the KC-46 is ultimately expected to meet all 21 of its performance goals.

But delays in the program mean that Boeing will not be able to make good on its most significant delivery requirement — delivering nine sets of wing aerial refueling pods — until mid-2020, or nearly three years later than originally expected.

In addition to previously reported foreign object debris problems, the GAO report details deficiencies with the tanker’s remote vision system and refueling boom — which could damage aircraft, especially stealth coatings.