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​The next six months "are absolutely critical for the execution" of the KC-46A tanker program, said Maj. Gen. John Thompson, program executive officer for tankers, at AFA's Air & Space Conference, Sept. 16, 2014. Staff photo by Kristina L. Parrill

​Maj. Gen. John Thompson, program executive officer for tankers, said Tuesday the next six months “are absolutely critical for the execution” of the KC-46A tanker program. After Boeing identified an anomaly with some electrical bundles in the first KC-46 test aircraft, the company conducted a wire audit and reviewed 98,000 wire segments, or some 1,700 bundles of wires, he said at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. Boeing discovered that in about 5 percent of those segments, the redundant, or backup, wiring—which is required to be placed in different parts of the aircraft to ensure critical weapon systems are always available if one set of wires somehow fails—was “inadvertently” placed “right next to each other or too close to each other to meet” Federal Aviation Administration and US military standards. “It’s a production issue that requires minor redesign, so the US government is not panicked by it. We’re disappointed by it because we’re really eager to get in to flight test and unfortunately this production challenge has chewed into some of our schedule margin,” said Thompson. According to the contract, Boeing must deliver the first 18 KC-46s by August 2017, though Boeing originally thought it could deliver all 18 aircraft by March of that year, said Thompson.