Although Air Mobility Command chief Gen. Carlton Everhart seems convinced that the tanker recapitalization program should be more KC-46s and a new, stealthy “KC-Z,” those are ideas that will have to be explored, Air Force acquisition chief Darlene Costello told reporters at ASC16. A fleet of 179 KC-46s is “approved and that’s our baseline program,” she said, adding, “certainly we can consider buying more, but there would have to be quite a bit of discussion” about expanding the program. “We believe we have a good product” in the KC-46, but it currently faces “some schedule issues” If it “proves to be...what we expect, we may want to buy more.” Costello’s deputy, Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, said “I don’t see that we’d have to do a whole lot” of programmatic wrangling “to buy more.” As for the KC-Z, Bunch said that idea “would be further out” and may have to go through the kind of “experimentation campaigns (and) developmental planning” that went into the Air Superiority 2030 study. “Those are all things we discuss in ‘planning choices’,” which is the pre-budget financial assessment of the Air Force program.
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