A KC-46A Pegasus during testing with a C-5M Super Galaxy for the first time on April 29, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Christian Turner)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Protracted delays on Boeing's new KC-46 tanker could leave the Pentagon with a shortage of refueling capacity, the head of U.S. Transportation Command warned on Tuesday.

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Boeing was forced to ground its 767-based KC-46 tankers for the past week after the Air Force expressed concern about loose tools and bits of debris found in various locations inside the completed airplanes, according to internal company memos.

"We have USAF pilots here for flight training and they will not fly due to the FOD (foreign object debris) issues and the current confidence they have in our product that has been discovered throughout the aircraft," factory management wrote in a Feb. 21 memo to employees on the 767 assembly line.

"This is a big deal," the memo emphasized.

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Two new KC-46A Pegasus tankers touched down at McConnell Air Force Base on Friday afternoon, marking a major milestone for the base and Wichita after nearly two decades of high drama, uncertainty and delays.

And two more tankers are on Wichita's horizon next week.

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Photo by Ken Fielding via Wikipedia

A multi-billion dollar next-generation aerial tanker program managed at Wright-Patterson has completed mid-air refueling tests and awaits the Pentagon’s approval to buy the first batch of aircraft, according to the Air Force.

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