Boeing delivered the first of four KC-767 Tankers to Japan yesterday, 15 months behind schedule. Before leaving U.S. airspace on a 14-hour ferry flight to Gifu airbase neat Nagoya, it flew in formation with the No. 2 airplane that will follow after the Japan Air Self-Defense Force completes a formal acceptance process.
The KC-767 is Boeing’s contender in the huge and politically charged U.S. Air Force KC-X competition for an initial 179 tankers. The Pentagon is expected to announce a decision next Wednesday, February 27. The Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is the rival contender, having been Americanized as the Northrop Grumman KC-30.
EADS last week reported a key flight test milestone with the first A330MRTT, destined for the Royal Australian Air Force. After 63 flights and 202 hours, EADS validated the full flight envelope, and found no problems with the aerodynamics of the refueling pods and boom, said EADS. Problems in that area partly caused the KC-767 delay.