Posted by John McHale ST. LOUIS, 24 June 2010. The U.S. Air Force contracted Boeing [NYSE: BA] to upgrade the service's 59-jet KC-10 tanker fleet with a new avionics such as communication, navigation, surveillance, and air traffic management (CNS/ATM) system. The KC-10 upgrade will enable the fleet to comply with the forecasted 2015 CNS/ATM Federal Aviation Administration/International Civil Aviation Organization standards, which allow shared access within both civil and military airspace, enabling tanker refueling operations worldwide. "As air traffic continues to increase, modern CNS/ATM systems become essential for communicating precise flight data and obtaining the most direct routing," says Mike Harris, Boeing vice president of Weapon Systems Modernization. "This upgrade is critical to the Air Force for pilots' safety, mission effectiveness, and lower operational costs."The five-year contract draws on design and development work performed by Boeing Defense, Space & Security and Boeing Commercial Airplanes. The contract will be managed at the Boeing Long Beach, Calif., facility. The first airplane will be modified and flight-tested in 2012 at the company's San Antonio facility. Boeing will complete and deliver the final KC-10 modification in 2015.