AFTER A 12-hour, non-stop delivery flight from McConnell AFB, Wichita, Kansas, to Gifu, Japan, on February 19-20, the first Boeing KC-767J for the Japanese Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF), 7-3601/N763TT (c/n 33844), was officially handed over to Itochu Corporation. Itochu, one of the largest general trading companies in Japan, is used as an intermediary for the majority of major Japanese defence purchases from overseas. After a final review by the Air Staff of the Japanese Ministry of Defence (MoD), Itochu will deliver the aircraft to the MoD once the in-country acceptance processes are completed.
Delivery followed completion of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification of the aircraft, which was granted on February 13 in the form of an FAA Supplemental Type Certificate. It was partly the JASDF’s requirement to complete FAA passenger and main deck cargo certification, which goes beyond the normal requirements for a military aircraft, which had delayed delivery of the KC-767. The second of the four JASDF convertible freighter-configured aircraft, 7-3602/N768TT (c/n 33958), will also be delivered before the end of the first quarter of 2008. The third aircraft, (7-3603)/N766TT (c/n 34433), made its first flight from Paine Field, Everett, on January 4 and then departed on January 14 to McConnell Air Force Base, Wichita, Kansas, where tanker conversion will be undertaken by Boeing Integrated
Defense Systems before delivery in 2009. The fourth and final JASDF KC-767, N770TT/7-3604 (c/n 35498), is currently still on the production line and is not due for delivery until 2010.
Over the last few months Boeing has completed a number of milestones in the KC-767 development programme for Japan and Italy, including night refuelling with an F-15E (see Boeing Completes First Night Refuelling with JASDF KC-767, March, p22). Additionally, flight-testing has been undertaken on an Italian KC-767 of a newly designed pylon for the refuelling pod which overcomes airflow problems around the pylon that had been encountered with the original design.