US State Department Approves Japan’s Purchase of Four KC-46As

US STATE Department approval has been granted for a possible Foreign Military Sale to Japan of four Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aerial refuelling aircraft, plus related equipment, training and support. The estimated cost is $1.9 billion. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which announced the approval yesterday, September 21, said that it had also delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on the same day.

The DSCA said that the sale includes one additional spare Pratt &Whitney PW4062 turbofan engine. Each aircraft will be delivered with GPS capability and defensive systems installed, plus spares, to include: Raytheon’s ALR-69A radar warning receiver (RWR), Raytheon’s Miniaturized Airborne GPS receiver (MAGR) 2000 (2K) to provide GPS Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM) capability, and Northrop Grumman’s AN/AAQ-24(V) Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) system. Each LAIRCM system consists of the following components: three Guardian laser terminal assemblies (GLTA), six ultra-violet missile warning system (UVMWS) sensors AN/AAR-54, one LAIRCM system processor replacements (LSPR), one control indicator unit teplacement, one smart card assembly and one high capacity card.

The Major Defense Equipment (MDE) items are the aircraft and engines, MAGR 2K with SAASM, ALR-69A RWR, GLTA, UVMWS, and LSPR. The total MDE cost, with spares, is estimated at $1.5 billion.

The following non-MDE items will be included with the purchase of the airframes: twelve (16) AN/ARC-210 UHF radios, six (12) APX-119 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) transponders, initial spares and repair parts, consumables, support equipment, technical data, engineering change proposals, publications, field service representatives’ (FSRs), repair and return, depot maintenance, training and training equipment, contractor technical and logistics personnel services, US Government and contractor representative support, Group A and B installation for subsystems, flight test and certification, and other related elements of logistics support.

As previously reported in AFM, Japan’s Minister of Defense, Gen Nakatani, announced selection of the KC-46A to meet its KC-X requirement for additional tanker aircraft to supplement the current Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) fleet of four KC-767Js on October 23 last year during a news conference in Tokyo. At that time, Japan said it planned to acquire three KC-46As by 2020 and would provide funding for the first one in the 2016 budget. The type is scheduled to be deployed by the JASDF by the end of Fiscal Year 2018. Yesterday’s DSCA announcement shows that the requirement has been increased to a total of four aircraft.

The only other prospective bidder, Airbus Defence and Space (ADS), announced on September 8 last year, the deadline for submission of responses to the KC-X Request for Proposals (RFP), that it did not intend to make an offer for the requirement. It said in a statement that it “regrets that the way in which this RFP has been formulated forced it to conclude that it would not be an appropriate use of shareholder’s funds and company resources to bid on this contract and accordingly the company will not be competing.” The European company said the RFP allowed the KC-46A to be purchased through a government-to-government Foreign Military Sale, which did not allow for a fair price comparison with the A330 MRTT that Airbus would have been offered through a direct commercial sale.

This left Boeing as the sole bidder. The Airbus decision was also likely influenced by the fact that the JASDF already operated the KC-767, from which the KC-46A was developed, making it unlikely that Japan would pick a different type. Once the deal is finalised, this will be the first export order for the KC-46A, the A330MRTT having won every previous tanker competition that it had entered.

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