The first Boeing (NYSE:BA) 767 airplane for the Japan Tanker Program arrived in Wichita today for conversion into a KC-767 tanker, the world's most advanced aerial refueling tanker.
The Japan Defense Agency (JDA) ordered the tanker to meet the aerial refueling and troop transport needs of the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF). The KC-767 was selected over its competitor, the Airbus A310, in direct competition in 2001. The first Japan KC-767J is scheduled for delivery in December 2006.
The Japan KC-767J tanker is a military derivative of the proven 767-200ER commercial airplane. It will be configured with the advanced Boeing air refueling boom and an advanced Remote Aerial Refueling Operator II system. The JDA also selected the convertible freighter configuration for its tanker, providing flexibility to carry either cargo or passengers, while maintaining its primary role as an aerial tanker.
"The arrival of this airplane to the modification center is a huge step in meeting the strategic self defense needs of Japan," said Lt. Col. Masayuki Suzuki, Japan KC-767J Tanker Liaison Officer. "Our expectation for this new capability is extremely high. We expect a quality product that performs to our needs when we need it. We have firm confidence that Boeing will deliver."
Japan is the second customer for the KC-767. Italy was the launch customer, having selected the KC-767 to upgrade its aerial refueling capabilities and flexibility. Italy's first new aerial tanker made its maiden flight in May and is in a flight test and certification program for delivery to the Italy Air Force in spring 2006.
"We are excited to get this aircraft in Wichita for modification," said Jim O'Neill, Boeing vice president and tanker program manager. "We have a long and honored history with the great nation of Japan . We know the KC-767J will add great value to its self-defense and humanitarian efforts with its increased capability and mission flexibility."
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