Italy’s first two KC-767 tankers formally entered service, announced manufacturer Boeing. The Italian air force held a ceremony on Tuesday at its air base at Pratica di Mare near Rome for the occasion. “This is a milestone event for the Italian air force as well as the members of Boeing’s international tanker team,” said Scott Wuesthoff, Boeing’s international tanker program manager. “The KC-767 tankers will significantly increase Italy’s military capability as the country performs vital missions in support of NATO and regional interests.” Boeing is building four KC-767s for the Italians to replace their B-707 tankers. The company expects to deliver the third Italian KC-767 this summer and the fourth one “shortly thereafter.” Italy is the second nation behind Japan to operate KC-767s. Boeing will also supply the US Air Force’s KC-46A tankers, which are based on the 767 airframe.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.