PRATICA DI MARE, Italy, May 17, 2011 -- The first two Boeing [NYSE: BA] KC-767 advanced aerial refueling tankers for the Italian Air Force (ItAF) formally entered into service today during a public ceremony near Rome.
The ItAF accepted delivery of the two KC-767A tankers on Dec. 29 and March 10. Italian crews then flew the aircraft from Boeing's tanker modification facility in Wichita, Kan., to the Italian air base at Pratica di Mare.
"The configuration flexibility of the KC-767 tanker allows for simultaneous refueling and passenger and cargo transport, with the potential to operate in humanitarian response, disaster relief, and emergency aeromedical evacuation of personnel," ItAF officials said. "The KC-767 enables a unique and exceptional air projection capability, not only for Italy, but for all of NATO."
"This is a milestone event for the Italian Air Force as well as the members of Boeing’s International Tanker team," said Scott Wuesthoff, International Tanker program manager for Boeing. "The KC-767 tankers will significantly increase Italy's military capability as the country performs vital missions in support of NATO and regional interests. The deliveries also reaffirm Boeing's standing as the world’s leading provider of aerial refueling tankers."
Boeing is building four KC-767 Tanker Transport aircraft, designed for in-flight aerial refueling and strategic transport, to replace the ItAF B-707T/T fleet. Since their delivery, the first two KC-767 tankers have been engaged in aerial refueling training missions with ItAF crews in which they are successfully delivering fuel to an array of ItAF aircraft. Boeing and the ItAF are working together to enter the third KC-767 aircraft into the acceptance process for anticipated delivery this summer, with a fourth tanker to follow shortly thereafter. Upon receiving its fourth tanker, ItAF will declare Final Operational Capability.
The Italian Air Force KC-767A is a "convertible combi," meaning it can carry all passengers, all cargo, or a combination of passengers and cargo. In any configuration, the KC-767 has an aerial refueling boom with a remote aerial refueling operator station, as well as wing pod and centerline hose and drogue systems, and a refueling receptacle. This configuration allows for the refueling of all existing types of aircraft, both fighters and transports.
"The Italian Air Force KC-767A can be refueled by another tanker thanks to the refueling receptacle located on top of the aircraft near the cockpit, a feature that increases the tanker's already enviable operating capacity and range," ItAF officials said.
Boeing has been designing, building, modifying and supporting tankers for decades. These include four KC-767 tankers delivered to the Japan Air Self Defense Force, hundreds of KC-135 tankers delivered to worldwide customers, and a fleet of large KC-10 tankers delivered to the U.S. Air Force.
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