Italy plans to buy six KC-46A Pegasus tankers from Boeing

Since 2012, the Italian Military Aeronautics [Aeronautica Militare] It uses four tanker aircraft of the KC-767A type, whose design is derived from Boeing’s B-767-200ER. Considering this insufficient capacity, the Transalpine General Staff recently announced its intention to order two additional units, on the occasion of the publication of the multi-year Defense program for the period [Documento Programmatico Pluriennale della Difesa] 2022-24.

More precisely, it was then about acquiring the latest version of the KC-767A. [basée sur le B-767-300, ndlr] proposed by the American manufacturer and modernize the four aircraft in service. And this document justified such a choice by emphasizing the “exceptional technological benefits” for the Italian industry of the cooperation between the Ministry of Defense and Boeing. And the cost of this program was then estimated at about 645 million euros.

Finally, Aeronautica Militare gave up this plan… in favor of the acquisition of six KC-46A “Pegasus” [ou KC-767B dans la nomenclature italienne]. This is precisely the recommendation made on November 2 by the Aeronautical Armament and Airworthiness Directorate. [ARMAEREO]dependent on the General Secretariat of Defense and the National Arms Directorate [SEGREDIFESA].

Indeed, he estimated that the acquisition of two new KC-767A and the modernization of the four already in service would not be feasible… And that, consequently, the only solution was to acquire six KC-46A Pegasus to be up to the task. the US Air Force level. Note that the “A330 MRTT” option has apparently not been considered.

The cost of this program, which will start in 2023, is estimated at 1,100 million euros. In addition to the delivery of the KC-46As, this sum includes the supply of various equipment. [auto-protection, liaisons de données, communication, etc] as well as logistical support for a period of five years. And the four KC-767As will be taken over by Boeing, as was the case with the Japan Air Self-Defense Forces’ KC-767Js, which also ordered “Pegasus.”

After the United States, Japan and Israel, Italy should be the next customer for the KC-46A, despite design flaws. [notamment au niveau de son « Remote Vision System »] that Boeing is struggling to resolve. In addition, during the presentation of its results in October, the American manufacturer presented losses of 3,300 million dollars, due in part to its tanker planes and the Air Force One program.

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