The KC-767A is an in-flight refueling aircraft designed by Boeing, and based on their Boeing 767 airliner. It is designed to replace older KC-135 tankers and KC-10A Extenders in service with the United States Air Force and other NATO forces.

Since its first flight in 2000, the KC-767A has been ordered by the Italian Air Force, the Japan Self Defense Forces, and the Royal Air Force (i.e. the United Kingdom). Deliveries will not take place until 2007.

The RAF and USAF's plans, however, are, uh, special. We'll start with the Department of Defense's procurement plan. Instead of buying their fleet, they plan to lease 100 KC-767A's for six years, at a cost of $17 billion. If they decide to keep the planes, they can buy them at the end of the term for an extra $4 billion. This is the sort of thing airlines do all the time, but the military usually doesn't rent its airplanes, which has caused the proposal to arouse some suspicion in Congress. Boeing, of course, is eager to get the contract, which will more than make up for the losses it has incurred in the air travel slump.

On to Whitehall. In Britain, Boeing has entered a consortium with BAE Systems, Serco Group, and Spectrum Capital that plans to offer a $20 billion contract to supply, maintain, and fly the RAF's new tanker fleet of twenty refitted British Airways 767's. They're essentially outsourcing their refueling operations: the consortium flies the planes and maintains the bases, and can use the planes for civilian purposes when the RAF doesn't need them. Interesting indeed.

According to Boeing: "767 Tanker Transport pricing ranges from $150M to $225M depending on configuration, quantity, delivery and payment options. Responses to international inquiries may be subject to applicable U.S. export laws."

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