By ARIE EGOZI
Tel Aviv. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is offering the Indian Air Force (IAF) to purchase converted Boeing 767 aircraft into aerial refueling missions.
Yossi Melamed, Executive Vice President and general manager of IAI Aviation Group told Raksha Anirveda that IAI is offering a converted 767 “that will fully answer the operational needs of the Indian Air Force.”
For some years the IAF has been trying to acquire aerial refueling aircraft to replace the fleet of six Russian-origin Ilyushin-78 tankers that are plagued by maintenance problems.
The high price of new aerial air refueling aircraft like the Boeing KC-46 A was the main reason that a contract was not signed.
In recent months the Aviation Group of IAI has offered a converted 767 that will serve as aerial refueling aircraft.
In 2010, IAI has delivered a converted B767-200ER (Extended Range) Multi-Mission Tanker Transport (MMTT), which includes air refueling capabilities to the Colombian Air Force (CAF).
The aircraft was converted by IAI to a MMTT configuration for the Colombian government and the end-user, the Colombian Air Force.
The Israeli Air Force urgently needs a new aerial refueling aircraft to replace the old 707 that were converted by IAI to this mission.
It may be noted that at one point of time of this delayed procurement process, the Israeli air force evaluated the offer of IAI for the conversion of 767 to an aerial refueling aircraft. This offer was rejected and the force is planning to procure the KC-46A.
Sources here say that the Israeli ministry of defence preferred the KC-46 because it can be purchased with the US foreign military funds (FMF) grants.
IAI offered the Indian Air Force to purchase converted 767 or lease the aircraft.
-The writer is an Israel-based freelance journalist