WICHITA, Kan., July 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Spirit AeroSystems, Inc., (NYSE: SPR) today celebrated completion of the first forward fuselage section, Section 41, destined for integration into the Boeing KC-46A tanker. In a rollout ceremony earlier today, Boeing and U.S. Air Force representatives joined Spirit leadership and employees to mark the occasion. (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130726/CG54061) (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130515/CG13652LOGO) "Right now we the fly KC-135R models and they are great and give gas all over the world. We need to recapitalize the fleet. We need something better and newer. The KC-46A is the answer. You all are part of the program and on the team. The stability of the program is fantastic. I am counting on you to deliver these planes on time and with high quality so our warfighters can safely, efficiently and effectively do their job to protect our freedom. Thank you for everything you have done and keep up the good work," Major General John Thompson, U.S. Air Force Program Executive Officer for Tankers, told those attending the event. "We are proud to be part of the next generation of aerial refueling tankers, and to support our war fighters both home and abroad by providing this critical capability," said Kris Atcheson, KC-46 program director at Spirit AeroSystems. "Our integrated product team has been working for several years to design the next-generation tanker utilizing the latest design and manufacturing techniques to ensure the highest quality, performance and safety for Boeing and its end-user customer in the Air Force." In June 2011, Spirit was announced as a supplier on the KC-46 program. Spirit is responsible for the forward fuselage section, strut and nacelle components, and the fixed leading edge for the KC-46A tanker. Spirit manufactures the Section 41 and strut and nacelle components at its Wichita, Kan. facility. Production of the KC-46A is integrated directly into the Boeing 767 commercial production line at Boeing's Everett facility. "Boeing is proud to celebrate Spirit AeroSystems' outstanding performance," said Maureen Dougherty, Boeing vice president and KC-46 Tanker Program manager. "Our suppliers continue to drive the successful execution of this program. Thank you for keeping us on plan to deliver this tremendous capability, the KC-46A, on schedule to our nation's warfighter." Boeing has announced it will build 179 next-generation aerial refueling tanker aircraft that will begin to recapitalize the Air Force's fleet of 416 KC-135 tankers. Based on the proven Boeing 767 commercial airplane, the KC-46 tanker is a widebody, multi-mission aircraft updated with the latest and most advanced technology to meet the demanding mission requirements of the future.