Getting Something in Return

An Italian KC-767 aerial refueling aircraft refueled in flight a second Italian KC-767 during a test last week over northern Kansas, marking the first time that Boeing’s KC-767 tanker design has been refueled in flight, according to the company. During the flight test, Boeing aircrews made seven contacts and transferred more than 10,000 pounds of fuel, the company said in a release Dec. 19. Boeing has two KC-767s in flight test for the Italian Air Force and is building two more for Italy. It is also supplying four KC-767s to Japan. The company offered the US Air Force a variant of the KC-767 in the original KC-X tanker competition, but it lost to Northrop Grumman’s KC-30. After Boeing’s successful legal protest of USAF’s decision, the contest was re-opened, but then subsequently shelved until the new Administration is in place. When the KC-X contest resumes next year, Boeing will have to decide, depending on the extent to which the Air Force modifies its requirements, if it will still offer the KC-767, another variant, or a tanker based on different airframe like the 777. To date, Boeing has said work on the Italian and Japanese tankers has reduced risk to its USAF KC-767 design.