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

  • CFM Air

    Company specialises in development and prototyping; latest known own design is the Dardo, which flew in July 2014. At that time, CFM had not decided whether to sell the project to a manufacturer or to establish its own production line.

  • CFM Air Dardo

    Type Two-seat lightplane. Programme Exhibited, unflown, at Aero '14, Friedrichshafen, April 2014. First flight (unregistered) at Turin Aeritalia aerodrome on 16 July 2014, flown by Maurizio Cheli. Design Features Intended to have widest cockpit of any Advanced Ultralight, able to accommodate

  • Martin

    Company established in 1998 to develop Jetpack exoskelitor flying vehicle inspired by-and intended to surpass-impractical 1950s projects. In December 2008, received grant of NZD968,430 from New Zealand government's Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. Flight testing and fundraising was

  • Martin Jetpack

    Type Exoskelitor flying vehicle. Programme Developed, in secret, over 27 years by Mr Martin, who built 11 prototypes up to time of international debut at AirVenture, Oshkosh, 29 July 2008. Martin Model P11 (11th prototype) registered ZK-JME on 20 April 2011; on 21 May 2011, flying in UAV mode,

  • Niki

    Established in present form 2010, although first product was helicopter designed 10 years earlier, this failing to achieve production. Niki 2004 two seat autogyro project began in 2004, constructed of composites, combined with plywood and aluminium, and flight-tested (registered A21NIN) in December

ADVERTISEMENT

Industry Links

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