KC-767A mm62226 14-01

14th Wing of the Aeronautica Militare Italiana

At the beginning of June we had the opportunity to fly aboard of an KC767A from the 14th Wing on a AAR mission just outside of the Adriatic Shoreline. It really was an advantaged point to observe the wing operation, based at Pratica Di Mare (Roma), as this is one of the main activity of the unit, along with advanced training for the multiengine aircraft like P180, C-130J, C-27J and of course the KC-767A. Soon it will also receive two G550 modified in Israel for CAEW&C operation under the same deal that brought the M346 Master as the main training platform for the Israel Defence Force.

The wing activity received a big improvement with the replacing of the aging Boeing 707 T/T acquired on March 1992 with the new KC-767A starting on January 2011. With this asset, the unit has been able to take part to many national and international exercises as shown at the recent NATO exercises as the Trident Juncture 2015, the EART 2016 at Eindhoven (Netherlands) and also to the Red Flag 16.2. It also permitted at the first F-35A assembled at the Italian FACO of Cameri to reach NAS Patuxent River (Maryland, USA) for further test and development. It was a big leap for the JSF program as it was the first attempt to make an Oceanic Crossing, which was later replied by the Netherlands Air force for noise evaluation at their two bases, followed by the Royal Air Force, the USMC and finally the USAF to participate at the RIAT. The 14th wing also delivered two more F-35 to Luke AFB (Arizona, USA), home of the Air Education Training Center 56th Wing, where among others the Italian pilot are trained for the Lighting II. Since the introduction the KC-767 has successfully take part to combat mission like the Unified Protector (Lybia 2011), ISAF Mission (Afghanistan) and lately the Inherent Resolve (Kuwait). Both are still on going as shown recently when the 14th Wing supported the deployment of 4 Italian AMX from the 51st Wing which replaced the Tornado IDS previously deployed in Kuwait.
Tornado IDS mm7025 6-05

Tornado IDS mm7088 6-10
But these are just the standard missions, in fact as the KC-767A it’s equipped with a flexible internal configuration that permit to shift from a tanker configuration to a passenger one or to cargo or even a Combi setup in a matter of hours, the 14th Wing has been able to operate also for medical and humanitarian mission like on October 2014 when they recover an Ebola infected Italian doctor from Sierra Leone that was then able to get proper cure at an specialized hospital in Rome. With this rapid intervention he was able to fully re-establish. Historically the 14th Wing has always be used successfully for such a mission like just after the Tahiti Earthquake or the 2004 Thailand Tsunami.The wing has two flying group, the 71st Group, equipped with Piaggio P-180 for radio telemetry, and the 8th Group quipped with 4 KC-767A ant two support group, the CAE (Centro Addestramento Equipaggi) and the GEA (Gruppo Efficienza Aeromobili). The 8th Group has recently celebrate his 100th anniversary with a special colour, the aircraft coded 14-01, which we used for the mission.

Arrived early in the morning we were able to observe the frenetic group activity. On the flightline there were two tanker for the daily operation, with a third one in the maintenance hangar getting ready. The fourth one was deployed in combat theatre. We took off as scheduled aboard of the full-pax configured Boeing initially southbound but then we soon turned northbound towards the training area reserved for the AAR. Just when we reach the Adriatic coast the crew started to prepare the aircraft for the refuelling operation.Soon after, the first couple of AMX approached us. The first one for a quick gas and go for later repositioning itself at the right wing of the tanker. The wingman that was an AMX-T occupied for quite a long the left wing to train on the procedures with many dry contact on the left side basket that was extended from the pod located at the extreme wing tip. After these two another couple of AMX from the 51st Wing join the tanker for the AAR procedures. It was then the turn of a couple of Tornado IDS from the 6th Wing.
AMX-T mm55049 51-83

C-130J-30 04-3142
Even though not fully employed during our flight, the KC-767A it’s equipped with 3 different baskets for the air refuelling, with a maximum flow of over 2000 l/min for the central one, while the two on the wings have a slightly lower capacity. Beside these it also have a “boom” with over 4000 l/min capacity driven by a sophisticate 3D system that allow the operator to fulfil all the operation while seated on a console located just behind the cockpit instead of the usual prone position that is possible to find on older airframe like KC-135 and KC-10.

Once ended the AAR operation we cleared the zone of operation towards Pratica Di Mare. We would like to thanks for such an occasion Capt M.Seri from the Public Relation office of the Stato Maggiore dell’Aeronautica and the First M.llo M. Martina from the 14th Wing without whom our flight wouldn’t be possible.

Text and Photo by Marco Sommacal And Gianluigi Spagnol

AMX A-11B 51-32 mm7166, 51st Wing, Istrana AB. AMX-T TA-11B 51-83 mm55049, 51st Wing, Istrana AB. AMX-T TA-11B 51-83 mm55049, 51st Wing, Istrana AB. Tornado IDS 6-05 mm7025, 6th Wing, Ghedi AB. Tornado IDS 6-05 mm7025, 6th Wing, Ghedi AB. Tornado IDS 6-05 mm7025, 6th Wing, Ghedi AB.
Tornado IDS 6-10 mm7068, 6th Wing, Ghedi AB. KC-767 14-01 mm62226, 14th Wing, Pratica Di Mare. AMX-T TA-11B 51-83 mm55049, 51st Wing, Istrana AB. Tornado IDS 6-05 mm7025, 6th Wing, Ghedi AB. Tornado IDS 6-05 mm7025, 6th Wing, Ghedi AB. AMX A-11B 51-32 mm7166, 51st Wing, Istrana AB.
Inside The KC-767A.