An initial budget of $71 million was approved on 26 December for the acquisition of an Israeli “air force one” governmental VIP transport.

The initial go-ahead was given in August 2016, but much of the programme has since been shrouded in secrecy.

The undisclosed aircraft has been bought and has arrived at hangars belonging to the Bedek group, part of Israel Aerospace Industries.

Bedek will convert the used aircraft to its new role, which will include the installation of Elbit Systems’ Multi Spectral Infrared Countermeasure (Music) system that protects the aircraft from shoulder-launched missiles.

The total budget of some $100 million will cover the purchase of the aircraft and its conversion for the mission, and the December approval by a parliamentary committee will enable Bedek to start work on the aircraft.

Israel has looked for such an aircraft in recent years to replace the aircraft leased from Israeli airlines to fly the prime minister to his international commitments.

Budget constraints and public criticism had previously prevented the programme going ahead.