KC-767 Tanker Transport
Boeing Integrated Defense Systems
May 21, 2005
Italian Air Force
The Boeing KC-767 is an early 21st century military aerial refueling and strategic transport aircraft developed from the Boeing 767-200. The tanker received the designation KC-767A in 2002 after being selected by the US Air Force initially to replace older KC-135Es. In December 2003, the contract was frozen and later canceled due to corruption allegations.
The tanker is currently being developed for use by the Italian and Japanese air forces, who have ordered four tankers each. Financing of the development of the aircraft, over $1 billion, has been borne by Boeing, in that it hoped to get major orders from the U.S. Air Force.
For the KC-X competition, Boeing offered a KC-767 based on the forthcoming 767-200 Long Range Freighter. In February 2008 the DoD selected Northrop Grumman/EADS’s KC-30 offering, now officially designated the KC-45A.
Commercial Derivative Air Refueling Aircraft
The U.S. Air Force (USAF) ran a procurement program to replace around 100 of their oldest KC-135E Stratotankers, part of the Commercial Derivative Air Refueling Aircraft program. Most USAF KC-135s are of the updated KC-135R variant.
- “”The KC-330 increase in size does not bring with it a commensurate increase in available air refueling offload,…” (USAF quote)
- The KC-330 “..presents a higher-risk technical approach and a less preferred financial arrangement.” (USAF quote)
- ” the size difference of the EADS-proposed KC-330 results in an 81 percent larger ground footprint compared to the KC-135E it would replace, whereas the Boeing 767 is only 29 percent larger.” (USAF quote)
- The KC-330 requires “..greater infrastructure investment and dramatically limits the aircraft’s ability to operate effectively in worldwide deployment.” (Summary of Quote by MAT magazine)
USAF lease and cancellation
For its Commercial Derivative Air Refuelling Aircraft program, the U.S. Air Force decided to lease around 100 KC-767 tankers from Boeing after it won the selection process.
Despite many other nations engaging in leased aircraft, there was some criticism. U.S. Senator John McCain questioned whether it is really cost-effective for the USAF to lease aircraft at all, particularly as the aircraft would probably not have many, if any, buyers when their military service was concluded. This was derided as an uninformed criticism, as there were many U.S. allies in need of tanker aircraft. The Congressional Budget Office has also criticized the draft leasing agreement as fiscally irresponsible. In November 2003, a compromise was struck where the Air Force would purchase 80 KC-767 aircraft and lease 20 more.
In December 2003, the Pentagon announced the project was to be frozen while an investigation of allegations of corruption by one if its former procurement staffers, Darleen Druyun (who had moved to Boeing in January) was begun. Druyun pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine months in jail for “negotiating a job with Boeing at the same time she was involved in contracts with the company”. Additional fallout included the resignation of Boeing CEO Philip M. Condit and the termination of CFO Michael M. Sears.
In January 2006, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced the cancellation of the Air Force’s KC-767A lease. This was designed as a cost cutting measure and as part of a larger reorganization and redefinition of the Air Force’s mission which included the retirement of the E-4B fleet, the cancellation of the 767-based E-10 program, as well as the elimination of all but 58 B-52s. Rumsfeld stated that this move will in no way impair the Air Force’s ability to deliver the mission of the KC-767A which will be accomplished by continuing upgrades to the KC-135 and KC-10 fleets. Boeing’s development of the aircraft for other customers was unaffected by the cancellation however.
In 2001, Japan selected the KC-767 over a tanker version of the Airbus A310 and signed a contract in 2003. This version is named the KC-767 Tanker Transport and is based on the 767-200ER. The Italian Air Force and the Japan Self-Defense Forces (which designated the aircraft KC-767J) have ordered four aircraft each.
Delivery of the first KC-767J for the JASDF has been delayed over one year to date due in part to the addition of aircraft receiving FAA certification, Boeing and its Japanese representative Itochu has agreed with Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD) to pay a penalty fee for the delivery delay, according to the MoD Statement.The first operational KC-767A was delivered to Japan on February 19, 2008, with the second KC-767 following on March 5. Delivery of two remaining tankers are planned for 2009 and 2010.
UK MoD FSTA
Boeing, teamed with BAE Systems and British Airways, offered the KC-767 to the UK’s RAF for its Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft. The companies formed the Tanker Transport Services Consortium (TTSC). British Airways would provide the 767 aircraft. Boeing would provide the conversion technology based on its KC-767 tanker design. BAE Systems would perform the majority of aircraft modifications. Marshall Aerospace, Serco, Spectrum, and Capital were also part of TTSC. The Ministry of Defence announced in January 2004 that it had selected the Airbus A330 MRTT to fulfill this requirement.
USAF KC-X Program
In 2006 the USAF released a request for proposal (RfP) for a new tanker program, KC-X, to be selected by 2007. Boeing had also announced it may enter an even higher capability tanker based on the Boeing 777, currently named the KC-777 Strategic Tanker. Airbus has partnered with Northrop Grumman to offer the Airbus A330 MRTT, the tanker version of the A330, which was being marketed to the USAF under the unofficial designation of KC-30.
In late January 2007 the USAF issued the KC-X Aerial Refueling Aircraft Request for Proposal. The RfP calls for 179 (4 system development and demonstration and 175 production) tankers, worth an estimated US$40 billion. However, Northrop and EADS expressed their displeasure at how the RfP was structured and have threatened to withdraw, leaving only Boeing to offer an aircraft.
On February 12, 2007, Boeing announced it is offering the KC-767 Advanced Tanker in the KC-X Tanker competition. Boeing stated for KC-X’s requirements, the KC-767 was a better fit than the KC-777. On April 11, 2007, Boeing submitted its KC-767 tanker proposal to U.S. Air Force.
In September 2007, the USAF rejected having a mixed fleet new tankers from both Boeing and Northrop Grumman as being unfeasible because of increased costs in buying limited numbers of two types annually. Boeing submitted the final version of its proposal on January 3, 2008. On 29 February 2008, the DoD chose the Northrop Grumman/EADS KC-30, now officially designated the KC-45A, over the KC-767.
Development of aircraft
Italy’s aircraft became the first KC-767 to be assembled. The aircraft are initially built as 767-200ER commercial airplanes, then flown to a separate facility for conversion into tankers. Italy’s first aircraft made its maiden flight on May 21, 2005, and in June the same year, Japan’s first aircraft arrived at Boeing’s Wichita, Kansas modification center to be fitted out with the tanker equipment.
On January 23, 2007, the KC-767 flight test aircraft set a program milestone by making its first hookup with a receiver aircraft, a B-52 Stratofortress. The “dry contact” transferred no fuel, but was intended to test the tanker’s fifth-generation fly-by-wire telescoping boom. Unlike the KC-135 boom operator, who is prone, the KC-767 operator uses a remote station with a video display. The testing is being done at Edwards Air Force Base, and the test aircraft is destined for Italy once testing is complete. Even if the KC-767 is not the final winner of the KC-X competition, Boeing expects the refueling boom being developed in the current program to be used on the KC-X airframe.
The KC-767 extended its air refueling boom and transferred fuel to another aircraft for the first time on March 5, 2007. The tanker completed another test milestone on April 12, 2007 when its aircrew successfully extended and retracted both wing refueling hoses. Flight testing has resumed on Japan’s tanker after modifications were completed. In November 2007, Boeing decided to shift modification work on the KC-767A tankers for Italy and Japan from subcontractor Aeronavali’s facility in Italy to Boeing’s Wichita facility in an effort to meet delivery schedules.
- Crew: 2 pilots, 1 boom operator
- Length: 159 ft 2 in (48.5 m)
- Wingspan: 156 ft 1 in (47.6 m)
- Height: 52 ft (15.8 m)
- Empty weight: 181,610 lb (82,377 kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 395,000 lb (186,880 kg)
- Powerplant: 2× GE CF6-80C2 turbofan, 60,200 lbf (268 kN) each
- Maximum Fuel Load: 160,660 lb (72,877 kg)
- Maximum speed: Mach 0.86 (570 mph, 915 km/h)
- Cruise speed: Mach 0.80 (530 mph, 851 km/h)
- Service ceiling 40,100 ft (12,200 m)
- For KC-767 Advanced Tanker:
- DoD 4120.15L, Model Designation of Military Aerospace Vehicles, 2004-05-12.
- Boeing Given Nod on Tanker Lease, Military-Aerospace Technology Magazine; volume: 1, issue: 2, 2002-05-01.
- “First Boeing 767 Aircraft for Japan Tanker Program Arrives in Wichita”, Boeing news release, 2005-06-08.
- “KC-767 tanker completes first contact”, Boeing news release, 2007-01-24.
- Butler, Amy, Fulghum, Davis A and Wall, Robert. “Northrop/EADS Clinches U.S. Refueler Deal”, Aviation Week, February 29, 2008.
- Tanker Twilight Zone, Air Force magazine, February 2004, Vol. 87, No. 2.
- Cahlink, George. “Ex-Pentagon procurement executive gets jail time“, Govexec.com, 2004-10-01. Retrieved on 2006-12-21.
- “Boeing, Italian MoD Sign Contract for 767 Tanker Transports”
- Boeing, Japan Sign 767 Tanker Transport Contract
- KC-767 tanker transport aircraft for delivery delays, Japan’s MoD, 2007-07-30, translation
- KC-767 tanker transport aircraft for delivery delays, Japan’s MoD, 2007-03-16, translation
- “Boeing Delivers First KC-767 Tanker to Japan”, Boeing, February 19, 2008.
- “Boeing Delivers 2nd KC-767 Tanker to Japan”, Boeing, March 5, 2008.
- Senator Robert Hill Press Conference transcript, Australian Department of Defence, 16 April 2004.
- Northrop Grumman KC-30 marketing web site
- Air Force Posts KC-X Request for Proposals, 2007-01-30
- Evens, Ben and Daly, Matthew (AP), “Northrop-EADS threatens to withdraw bid for US Air Force contract leaving only Boeing”, Aerotech News and Review, 2007-02-02
- “Boeing Unveils Air Force Tanker in $40 Billion Contract Competition”, Borak, D. Associated Press. 2007-02-12.
- In More Depth: Why the 767?
- Boeing Submits KC-767 Advanced Tanker Proposal to U.S. Air Force
- “Dual Sourcing Tanker Unfeasible, Wynne Says”, ABC News, September 20, 2007.
- “Boeing Submits Final KC-767 Advanced Tanker Proposal to U.S. Air Force”, Boeing, January 3, 2008.
- “Boeing Built First Italian Air Force KC-767 Tanker Makes First Flight”, Boeing news release, 2005-05-21.
- “Italy KC-767 Tanker #2 Arrives in Naples for Modifications”, Boeing press release, 2005-05-06.
- Boeing KC-767 Tanker Completes First Fuel Offload to Receiver
- Boeing KC-767 Tanker extends wing refueling hoses for first time
- “Boeing resumes flight testing of KC-767 Tanker for Japan”, Boeing, August 30, 2007.
- “Boeing rejigs KC-767 modification, testing to meet schedule”, Flight International, 27 November 2007
- “Boeing Offers KC-767 Advanced Tanker to U.S. Air Force”, Boeing press release, 2007-02-12.
- KC-767A product card
- KC-767 Advanced Tanker product card
- “Pratt & Whitney Selected To Supply Engines For KC-767”, 2007-03-13.