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The Air Force is studying the possible operational risks if Boeing is unable to make a ​contractual deadline of delivering 18 KC-46A tankers in August of 2017 following further delays in the first flight of the aircraft. Boeing delayed the first flight of a fully outfitted KC-46 after the aircraft’s fuel system was damaged because a wrong chemical was used during a test in July. The Air Force was “disappointed” to hear of the delay, which means the margin on the contract is “all but gone at this point,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in an Aug. 24 briefing at the Pentagon. If Boeing goes over the schedule again, the Air Force must determine if there will be an operational impact on the service basing the tankers and retiring KC-135s, said James.