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Mon, May 23, 2005

Italian Air Force KC-767 Tanker Takes Flight Over Kansas

International Effort Gets Off The Ground

Boeing test pilots took the first Italian Air Force KC-767A advanced aerial refueling tanker on its maiden flight Saturday. The aircraft, named Italy KC-767A#1, took off from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita and flew for more than one hour to begin its flying and aerial refueling certification test program.

"We are extremely proud of the KC-767A's maiden flight, " said Lt Col Roberto Poni, the on-site Italian Air Force liaison officer to the tanker program in a statement. "Together we have managed some significant challenges and, together, we will perfect this much needed asset."

"Boeing has a great launch customer in the Italian Air Force," said Jim O'Neill, Boeing vice president and Tanker program manager. "This is a completely new aerial refueling aircraft, designed with capabilities uniquely suited for the security needs of today and tomorrow."

Employees, suppliers and customers viewed the new Italian tanker take flight. The aircraft has an open architecture cockpit and advanced aerial refueling boom with a remote aerial refueling operator station.

The new tanker will undergo an extensive flight test and aerial refueling certification program. Boeing is scheduled to deliver the aircraft next spring.

Workers of Smiths Aerospace joined Boeing in the celebration. Smiths Aerospace provides the mission control system and aerial refueling systems along with other critical components.

"This first flight is a significant step forward in the success of the 767 tanker program," said John Ferrie, President of Smiths Aerospace in a statement. "Our employees share in the pride with Boeing, providing key systems in mission control and aerial refueling critical to operational success."



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