They are being treated with great respect, they accumulate fewer flight hours than other aircraft in the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF’s) inventory, and they are being prepared for the “real thing”.
The IAF is operating a fleet of old Boeing 707 aerial tankers. They will guarantee that the IAF will be able to operate against countries that do not neighbour Israel.
Very experienced technicians, most of them civilians, keep these aerial tankers in the best condition.
The IAF is now considering a Boeing proposal to equip its fleet of 707 aerial refuelling aircraft with a new “high speed” boom.
The IAF has purchased another Boeing 707, which is now being converted by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) into an aerial tanker. This 707 will be delivered to the IAF in mid-year.
The IAF was forced to convert another 707 because of the US Air Force’s troubled selection process for new tankers.
In recent years, the IAF Boeing 707 “Reem” have been equipped with a new glass cockpit as one part of the life-extension programme for this aircraft, serving mainly as an aerial tanker.
The Honeywell cockpit avionics suite installed in the 707s includes six MFDs and a new communication system that allows the pilots to send and receive text messages. A global air traffic management (GATM) system was also installed.
IAF sources keep saying that in spite of their age, the 707 tankers are fully operational and capable of pumping fuel into the IAF’s F-15s and F-16s if they are sent to encounter “long-range threats”.
The special treatment is aimed at keeping them very fit for many years to come.
The IAF has no immediate plans to purchase new aerial tankers from the USA or even modern, twin-engine aircraft that used to fly passengers and can be converted to perform a new mission.