Italian Tanker Refuels F-35


2015-08-08 Recently an Italian 767 Tanker refueled an F-35 in the United States.

This was the first time a foreign tanker has refueled an F-35.

The Italian tanker also operates as part of the European Air Transport Command and can look forward to tanking not only Italian and US F-35s but many other nations F-35s as well.

At the end of 2014, the Italians announced their decision to join the EATC and to dedicate their air lifters and tankers to the European command.

Italy joined officially on December 4, 2014.

According to the Italian Ministry of Defense, Italy will enhance its contribution to European defense and enhance cost effectiveness by joining the EATC.

The Note of Participation ratifies Italy’s accession to the European Air Transport Command (EATC), the military air transport coordination center that, since 2010, has employed aircraft contributed by participating countries to implement, among others, air-to-air refueling and aeromedical evacuation activities.

For the first time the event was broadcast live via streaming from Palazzo Baracchini, seat of the Ministry of Defence.

“Today’s signature is a success of the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union: a concrete substantial result  marking Italy’s accession to a flexible structure that allows us to ensure greater security”. Minister Pinotti said today on the occasion of Italy’s signature of EATC’s Note of Participation. 

“Thinking beyond, thinking anew”, the Minister added, “means rethinking our national vision to achieve a broader vision on a European scale”.

The Note of Participation was signed by Chief of the Italian Air Force, Lt Gen Pasquale Preziosa, EATC Commander, Gen Christian Badia, and military representatives of the project’s six other participating nations: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and Spain.

In brief, by joining the European Air Transport Command, Italy will be able to:

– Implement the guidelines of the Council of the European Union during the Italian Presidency;

– Make our national military air transport system more efficient, reducing costs currently incurred for the same activities.

According to an August 7, 2015 press release from the Joint Program Office about the KC-767 and F-35 tanker test:

In addition to USMC declaring IOC … more F-35 history was made last week when AF-4 performed the first aerial refueling from an Italian KC-767 Tanker. 

An American JSF AF-4 from the 461 FLTS, Edwards AFB, CA, piloted by Maj. Charles "FLAK" Trickey performs the first contact and fuel transfer from a KC-767 foreign partner Italian Tanker.

This test flight marked the first international tanker not operated by the U. S. Air Force to undergo refueling certification trials with a U.S. aircraft. 

During the flight, the KC-767A and its Italian military aircrew completed 25 boom contacts with the F-35A and successfully offloaded 16,000 pounds of fuel. 

The mission took place at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and testing is planned to continue there until the end of August.

Both the Italian Air Force and Navy will operate F-35s, recapitalizing their existing fleets of Tornados, AMX and AV-8 Harrier aircraft. 

The KC-767 F-35 refueling qualifications will further enhance the operational capability of Italy’s F-35 fleet and broadens Italy’s capabilities to support other countries’ F-35s in multi-national security operations.

Our Italian partner RID added that:

The Italian Air Force detachment at Edwards AFB is working on the certification of the KC-767 for refueling the F-35. 

To do so requires 15 flights and will occur over a two month period.

The certification will be issued by the end of 2015 and will then permit Italy to fly its first F-35A from Italy to the United States in the first quarter of 2016. 

The certification of the KC-767 with the F-35B will follow