25/05/11 By Luca Peruzzi Flight International
Inducted into service on 17 May, one of the Italian air force's two newly operational Boeing KC-767A tankers has joined NATO's Operation Unified Protector Libyan mission.
The Italian defence ministry on 20 May confirmed that the aircraft and one Lockheed Martin KC-130J have been put at NATO's disposal for in-flight refuelling tasks. Its statement revealed that both types were used last week, along with Italian air force Eurofighters, Lockheed F-16s, Panavia Tornados and an Alenia Aeronautica G222VS surveillance aircraft.
Italy's first two KC-767As were inducted into operational service with the 14th Wing during a ceremony at Pratica di Mare, attended by officials including air force chief of staff Gen Giuseppe Bernardis and Boeing representatives.
Accepted late last December and in early March, the aircraft should be followed by a third example soon. The fourth and final tanker/transport should follow in late 2011 or early 2012, said industry sources.
The last two aircraft will be delivered in an enhanced configuration, which industry and military sources said will include medical evacuation capability and a self-protection suite including an Elettronica ELT/572 directional infrared countermeasures system. The in-service aircraft will be retrofitted to the same standard.
Based on a modified 767-200ER airframe, Italy's KC-767As have two under-wing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods and a centreline boom, also with a centreline hose. Alternatively, the aircraft can carry up to 200 passengers or 19 pallets, or operate in a "combi" configuration with 100 seats and 10 pallets.