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​A KC-46A prepares to refuel a C-17 during testing. Boeing photo.

​The Air Force awarded Boeing the third low-rate initial production lot contract for 15 KC-46A tankers and spare parts, the company announced late Friday. The $2.1 billion contract follows the first two lots, which were awarded in August 2016 for seven and 12 aircraft, respectively. “Placing an order for another 15 aircraft is another important milestone for the KC-46 program,” said Col. John Newberry, Air Force KC-46 system program manager, in the release. The first four test aircraft, built under the initial 2011 development contract, as well as the first production aircraft have completed nearly 1,500 flight hours, states the release. Boeing was originally expected to deliver the first 18 aircraft by this August, but that was delayed until January 2018, due to problems encountered during refueling trials. The company reworked the boom and has successfully tested it on various aircraft. Speaking during Boeing’s Jan. 25 fourth quarter and year-end earnings call, company President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said Boeing “continues to transition from development to production” in the tanker program, “with testing tracking to plan and no new technical discoveries” found in the fourth quarter.