Israel Aerospace Industries' Bedek unit has conducted a successful series of flight trials involving a modified Boeing 767 tanker for Colombia, and says a lucrative market exists for additional customers.
The secondhand 767-200ER has been converted to a new multi-mission tanker/transport (MMTT) configuration for the Colombian air force, with the work having included the installation of ARP3 wing air refuelling pods developed and manufactured by IAI.
All images © Bedek
Conducted in Israel, the recent trials were aimed at expanding the in-flight refuelling envelope of the 767. This included transferring fuel to an upgraded IAI Kfir C10 fighter awaiting delivery to Colombia under a 2007 contract worth more than $150 million.
The 767's new refuelling equipment performed "flawlessly", say company test pilots, while contact by the fighter is described as easy, with a "stable hook-up".
"The performance and overall stability of the aircraft and the drogues displayed impressive results," says IAI's chief test pilot Ronen Shapira, who also flew behind the modified airliner in a Gulfstream G250 business jet.
Capable of carrying a maximum fuel load of 72,500-90,700kg (160,000-200,000lb), one adapted 767 could support 13 Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters on a mission with a range of 1,000nm (1,850km), Bedek says.
The company sees an opportunity to convert a "meaningful number" of additional 767s for the MMTT mission, which could also include cargo and VIP transport tasks. "This is one of our growth engines in the coming years, with potential sales of $100 million a year," says general manager Eliezer Hattem.
Further business could lead to Bedek working with European companies in making aircraft conversions, with Hattem confirming that it has already held talks "with more than one potential partner". IAI has previously offered a 767-based tanker to the Polish air force in collaboration with local firm Bumar.