Israelis may convert old 767s into tankers

Israel Aerospace Industries is moving ahead with plans to convert used 767 passenger planes into military cargo and refueling jets, Flight Global reports.

IAI is in talks to sell one or more of the converted767 tankers to the Israeli air foce, Flight reports from the Singapore Air Show. But reports last year suggested that IAI’s Bedek Aviation Group already had lined up its first buyer — an unidentified Latin American air force (believed to be Colombia).

Under IAI’s business plan, used 767-200s would first be converted into military cargo jets, and then outfitted with a centerline refueling boom, thus allowing them to fly tanker missions.

This converted 767 passenger jet has several advantages as a military tanker, according to IAI’s marketing types:

  • Since Bedek holds a Federal Aviation Administration supplemental type certificate to convert 767-200s into cargo jets, the plane can take off and land at civilian airports around the world;
  • The converted plane uses a modular design that allows users to quickly swap out components, so that the planes can be switched for use as tankers, freighters or personnel transports (not unlike the Boeing 737-400C combis that Alaska Airlines flies) — which it sees an advantage for a small air force;
  • Because the conversions use readily-available, used civilian airframes, they’re far cheaper than the new, purpose-built tankers that Boeing and EADS/Northrop Grumman propose building for the U.S. Air Force.

“Buying a new one, we believe, is a waste of money,” an IAI executive told Flight.

IAI and its Bedek subsidiary have some experience in the tanker modification business, having now converted eight 707s for the Israeli air force (shown in the photo). IAI is also studying a tanker based on the Gulfstream G550 business jet.

District 751 leaders would point out, however, that nobody on the planet has more experience building tankers than the Boeing Co.

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