Israel’s cabinet has approved proposed investment in a dedicated aircraft that will serve the nation’s prime minister and president on official trips.
Reached on 4 May, the decision – which endorsed the recommendations of a professional committee – was made after years of debating the issue.
Until 10 years ago, an Israeli air force Boeing 707 was used for official trips, but in recent years, the prime minister’s office has issued a tender to the three Israeli airlines – Arkia, El Al and Israir – each time the prime minister was due to fly for an official visit abroad.
This system drew public criticism, especially when special cabin arrangements were required by the prime minister's office.
A system of issuing tenders to Israeli airlines each time the prime minister traveller abroad came in for criticism
Sources say the cabinet decision opens the way for the purchase of a new, Boeing 767-sized aircraft or for the conversion of an existing airframe to serve as Israel’s “Air Force One”. The decision will allow the prime minister’s office to issue a tender for the selected option.
Once in use, the dedicated aircraft will serve as an advanced airborne command post, which will allow the prime minister and his aides to be connected to all the vital defence organisations from anywhere in the world.
The selected platform will also be equipped with a laser-based countermeasures system developed by Elbit Systems to protect aircraft from shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.