Boeing officials let it drop that the company has already invested about $1 billion of its own money in the KC-767 tanker program. They pointed out to reporters last week that the first KC-767 tanker—bound for the Italian Air Force—made its first flight last May 21 and has been in flight test ever since. Boeing is bearing most of the cost of the flight tests, which are due to wrap up late next year. Italy has ordered four KC-767s so far. So has Japan. Thus far, the Air Force has not contributed any money to the test program, but, at the request of Italy, USAF personnel have been placed on the KC-767 test team.
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.