THE ISRAELI AIR FORCE is operating several converted Boeing 707s in the airborne early- warning (AEW) role. The aircraft are fitted with Elta-developed, side-mounted antenna arrays in a configuration similar to those of the Israel Aircraft Industries/Elta Phalcon AEWs offered for export.
The converted 707s are now the air force's only AEW aircraft following the withdrawal of its Grumman E-2C Hawkeyes. The four Hawkeyes have been offered for export. The E-2s were withdrawn from service partly because of increasing maintenance costs.
It is not known how many 707s are being used by the air force in the AEW role. The Israeli air force has in the past refused to confirm that it has any AEW aircraft other than its E-2s. The air force has ambitions to purchase a full-blown Phalcon-configured AEW aircraft, although the choice of airframe may no longer be the 707.
More modern Airbus and Boeing commercial aircraft have been considered for the role, and IAI is offering South Korea a Phalcon-configured Boeing 767.
French sources say that negotiations have taken place between France and Israel over the purchase of the four Hawkeyes. These have come to nothing with the French navy's decision to purchase new-build aircraft from Northrop Grumman.