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Israel considers lease model for KC-46A tankers

Israel's defence ministry is evaluating a plan that could allow it to lease Boeing 767-based KC-46A tankers as replacements for the converted Boeing 707s now used by its air force.

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The evaluation is the most recent development in an ongoing effort to provide the Israeli air force with a modern in-flight refuelling capability. This has also involved the US government offering to supply three surplus KC-135Es worth around $200 million: a proposal the service responded to by saying it would only consider more capable R-model examples powered by CFM56 engines.

An Israeli source says a leasing model for the in-development KC-46A is being evaluated, and that "there are points to clarify" before a decision is made. Boeing's previous lease agreement, which enabled the UK Royal Air Force to operate an initial fleet of four C-17 strategic transports, is being used as the basic model for the evaluation, the source says.

Boeing and the US Air Force in August completed a critical design review for the KC-46A, with a first test example due to make its flight debut in mid-2014. The USAF plans to acquire 179 of the type to replace its oldest KC-135s.

Israel's current 707-based tankers were converted by Israel Aerospace Industries. Flightglobal's Ascend Online Fleets database records eight of the type as being in active use.