Leasing a squadron: new ideas grow in the ground of reality

Necessity is the mother of invention. This is very true, but in recent years, this phrase has gained a wider meaning when it comes to the needs of the Israeli air force.

It is a known fact that for years the air force always received more resources than the navy or the ground forces.

But even with that advantage, money is still short to quench the thirst of the air force.

This need – a permanent one – brought some solutions. But is that going to change?

I heard recently more than once that the air force does not rule out future contracts with Israeli companies that will purchase aircraft and sell flight hours to the service.

The formula is now being implemented with the Grob 120A basic trainer, used by the air force’s flight academy. Elbit Systems purchased the aircraft in the framework of a private finance initiative (PFI) contract.

Currently, Tor, a joint venture owned by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elbit Systems, is waiting for the selection of an advanced trainer for the air force. The joint company will purchase the aircraft and sell flight hours to the Israeli air force.

The air force expresses great satisfaction from these “power by the hour” contracts. Senior officers understand that this pattern has a limited lifespan, but in spite of this, they say they are not excluding more such contracts with other types of aircraft, as long as they are contracts with Israeli companies.

Sources say that the PFI contracts ease the pressure on the air force’s procurement budget, which is currently stretched to its limits because of the F-35 and C-130J contracts.

What types of equipment can be considered for such arrangements? I would think that new aerial tankers could be in this list, such as some types of helicopters.

Outsourced air force fleets? When the budget pressures can get a line in the Guinness World Records book, fresh ideas find many attentive ears.

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