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.
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.