Multipurpose aircraft – an aerial tanker but not only

What do you do when you need something but cannot afford it? This is the dilemma that many air forces face when it comes to aerial refuelling aircraft.

The basic price and low utilisation make the acquisition of a dedicated aircraft unattractive.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has been trying to come up with a solution to increase sales of aerial tankers.

The first proposed solution failed. It was based on a deal enabling air forces to have an aerial refuelling capability on a “power by the hour” basis.

The plan was based on converted Boeing 767s operated either by a local airline or by Israeli pilots.

 

The programme was prepared for air forces that do not have the money to purchase an aerial tanker.

That solution did not work. However, the Bedek group at IAI thinks it now has the right solution. This one is also based on a converted aircraft, at this stage a Boeing 767 that will serve as a multipurpose platform.

In November 2010, IAI delivered a Boeing 767-300 it had converted into an aerial tanker to the Colombian air force.

In fact, the aircraft can also be used as a VIP aircraft, a cargo aircraft and even as a platform for some intelligence-gathering systems.

Jack Gaber, IAI’s corporate deputy vice-president, and the general manager of marketing and business development at the Bedek group, said that the interest in the multipurpose 767 is growing. “We anticipate some meaningful contracts in the coming years.”

It took some years for the solution to evolve. Now IAI sees a market. It looks a logical one, but only when contracts are signed will we know that the potential clients also thought so.

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