Boeing said Monday that it would offer its new KC-767 to compete against the Northrop Grumman-EADS KC-30 for the Air Force’s KC-X tanker replacement program. (Northrop threw its hat in the ring late last week.) The 767, which is similar in size to USAF’s current KC-135 refueler, “is made for this mission,” says Ron Marcotte, head of Boeing’s Global Mobility Systems, considering its energy efficiency, agility, and “exceptional takeoff performance.” (Read more on this decision in “Why the 767”) Boeing already has produced some 950 commercial 767s and currently is developing 767 tankers for Japan and Italy. The company just completed a refueling hose test using the Hose Drum Unit favored by the Italian Air Force, US Navy, and most NATO countries. USAF decided that its next tanker would offer both its preferred boom system and an HDU.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.