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The Air Force has officially closed the critical design review for the KC-46A tanker, thereby formally establishing the aircraft's design and clearing the way for Boeing to progress into the tanker's manufacturing and developmental test phases, announced the service on Wednesday. "I'm pleased to report that the design of the KC-46A tanker has been locked down," said Maj. Gen. John Thompson, the Air Force's program executive officer for tankers, in Boeing's separate Sept. 4 release. "This is great news for the nation's warfighters. The joint government and Boeing team stayed focused on the design review objectives, and truly delivered," he said. Boeing will now proceed with integration, verification, and production of the first four KC-46s, which will support flight testing, scheduled to begin in mid-2014. Already, assembly of the first two KC-46s has begun. "The KC-46A's design is all about giving the warfighter an edge," said Maureen Dougherty, Boeing's KC-46 program manager. The company is under contract to supply 179 KC-46s by 2028 to replace the Air Force's oldest KC-135 tankers. (See also KC-46A Critical Design Review Nears Completion.)