Air Platforms

IAI mulls pooled tanker solution

07 April 2014
An IAI-converted Boeing 767-200 Multi-Mission Tanker Transport (MMTT) departs Ben Gurion International Airport, Israel, for Colombia on 4 November 2010. The company is looking at options for offering nations a pooled aerial refuelling capability based on the B767 tanker conversion work of its Bedek division. Source: IAI

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is looking at options for offering nations a pooled aerial refuelling capability based on the Boeing 767-300 Multi-Mission Tanker Transport (MMTT) tanker conversion work of its Bedek division, IHS Jane's was told on 3 April.

Speaking at the company's Tel Aviv headquarters, Jack Gaber, senior vice-president marketing and business development at Bedek, said the group was looking at new ways of providing aerial refuelling capabilities to nations that might not choose to field their own dedicated tanker fleet.

"We are thinking about new models of aerial refuelling, where a customer can buy the service when it is needed. Parties can have a share of an aircraft and [aerial refuelling] services," he said. "There is a need for tankers, but many countries cannot afford it. It is very challenging to own just one or two aircraft [and sustain a viable capability]. You need to have about four or more aircraft [to offset downtime due to maintenance etc]."

New-build options such as the Airbus A330-200 MultiRole Tanker Transport (MRTT) and Boeing KC-46A Pegasus are prohibitively expensive for all but the most advanced nations to operate in the numbers necessary to sustain a viable capability, Gaber explained. "The A330 and KC-46 are very expensive and for the rich people," he said. "Why buy new-build aircraft when you can get a converted aircraft for so much cheaper? I have a hard time understanding that."

While Gaber declined to quantify the specific savings, he said a converted B767-300 MMTT would cost about a quarter of an A330-200 MRTT or KC-46A to procure. "Life-cycle costs don't justify [buying a new aircraft] either. There is a honeymoon period at the beginning of an aircraft's life, when engines can stay on wings longer before overhaul etc, but over the 20-or-so years of an aircraft's life there is no real difference," he said.

On the issue of reliability Gaber also sees little justification for buying a new aircraft over a converted one. "Some potential customers think that a 20-year-old aircraft is too old, but it is not. Of the 60 converted B767-200 and B767-300 aircraft that are now flying [including freighter conversions], reliability has been exceptional - 99% in some cases."

With more than 45 years' experience of aerial refuelling conversion work, having converted KC-97 tankers for the Israel Air Force in 1969, IAI remains the only company to offer a tanker solution based on converted pre-owned aircraft. As Gaber explained, delays in developing the Boeing 787 Dreamliner meant airlines hung on to their B767s for longer than intended. However, with the B787 now entering service in numbers, a steady stream of donor B767s is entering the market for conversion.

To date, Colombia and Brazil have signed up for IAI's B767 MMTT conversions, with one 767-200 and two 767-300 aircraft respectively. According to Gaber, while prospective customers have shown interest in the pooled tanker idea, it is still very much in its conceptual stage with no defined timelines for being rolled out.

Aerial tanking is increasingly seen as a force-enabler and critical to today's missions. The NATO-led campaign over Libya in 2011 highlighted both the importance of aerial refuelling and the lack of tankers outside of the US Air Force (USAF).

A lack of European capability caused the USAF tanker force to fly more than twice its normal annual flight hours (15,000 hours over about 2,300 sorties, compared with the normal rate of about 6,500 hours per year) during the eight-month campaign, despite the United States supposedly taking a 'back seat' during the operation. During the campaign, 25% of the 26,500 sorties undertaken were flown by tankers.



(602 words)
By posting a comment you confirm that you have read and accept our Posting Rules and our Terms of Use of this site.

RELEVANT PROFILE LISTINGS

  • Meggitt Banshee

    Type Recoverable aerial target Development First flown in January 1983, Banshee was designed as a low-cost target system to simulate the threat of missiles and aircraft for gun and missile air defence systems. It has since become one of the most widely used such systems in the world, with over

  • Allsopp Desert Star Helikite

    Type Multi-purpose, scalable, tethered aerostat. Development Development of what Allsopp Helikites claims to be the 'smallest, all-weather, high-altitude aerostats in the world' began during 1993, with significant programme events including: 1995 The Desert Star Helikite was used to provide the

  • Alp

    Established 1998, and on 29 July 1999 became joint venture company with Sikorsky Aircraft Turkey Inc and The Alpata Group (50 per cent each) to manufacture high-technology, precision-machined aerospace and defence components and assemblies for global market. Alp Aviation is Turkey's third largest

  • Northrop Grumman XS-1

    Type Technology demonstrator. Programme On 19 August 2014, Northrop Grumman revealed that, in partnership with Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic, it was working on the preliminary design and a flight demonstration plan for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Experimental

  • RUAG

    Main aviation product divisions of the RUAG Holding group are Space, Aviation, Aerostructures, Defence and Ammotec (pyrotechnics). Total of some 8,000 staff in Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, France, Austria, Hungary, Australia and the US. RUAG Aviation produces Dornier 228 NG twin-turboprop in its

ADVERTISEMENT

Industry Links

IHS Jane's is not responsible for the content within or linking from Industry Links pages.
ADVERTISEMENT