Boeing KC-767 Tanker Extends Hose for First Time
ST. LOUIS, Feb. 12, 2007 — A Boeing [NYSE: BA] KC-767 Tanker aircraft reached another major milestone Saturday when its aircrew successfully extended and retracted the refueling hose from the centerline Hose Drum Unit (HDU) during a test flight over Kansas.
Over the next several months, about two dozen flights — at various speeds and altitudes — will be conducted while trailing the hose to ensure the system’s stability. When using the HDU, a tanker extends a hose with a basket attached to the end that connects to a probe on the aircraft receiving fuel.
“Obviously we see trailing the Hose Drum Unit as a significant step forward since most of our country’s military aircraft utilize this system when refueling,” said Lt. Col. Roberto Poni, Italian Air Force Tanker program liaison.
While the U.S. Air Force primarily uses a boom for aerial refueling, the Italian Air Force, along with the U.S. Navy, the Marine Corps and other NATO countries predominantly use hose and drogue refueling. The U.S. Air Force has stated they want both a boom and HDU refueling capability for its next-generation KC-X tanker.
When fully functional, the HDU has the capability to refuel large or small probe-equipped aircraft and can offload 600 gallons of fuel per minute. The KC-767 also is configured to carry two Wing Aerial Refueling Pods (WARPs) for the hose and drogue refueling mission, allowing the simultaneous refueling of multiple aircraft. The WARPs can offload 400 gallons of fuel per minute.
“Extending the HDU means we have truly entered a new frontier in air refueling,” said Joe Shaheen, director of Boeing International Tanker Programs. “The HDU, as well as the WARPs, are built by Smiths Aerospace and represent the most advanced hose/drogue refueling systems in the world.”
“Achieving this tanker milestone is another example of the tremendous record of Boeing air refueling experience and success over the last 75 years,” said Ron Marcotte, vice president and general manager of Boeing Global Mobility Systems.
The KC-767, slated for delivery to Italy this year, has logged more than 220 flights and 660 hours during its flight test program. Boeing has produced nearly 2,000 tankers in its history and currently is building four tankers each for Italy and Japan. The first KC-767 for Japan, which recently completed its first flight, is scheduled to be delivered soon.