Boeing may prevent Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) from converting used 767 aircraft to in-flight refueling tankers configuration for the Israeli Air Force (IAF), according to a report by Globes.
The report states that as IAI is aspiring to bag Israel's biggest defense procurement programs in the next few years, this restriction may mean that the firm may find itself out of the running for supplying the Israel Air Force's new tankers, as its proposal is based on buying used Boeing 767 aircraft on the open market and converting them for airborne refueling of combat planes.
Instead, the report said that the US aerospace giant is offering the Israel Air Force its new KC-46 tanker, which is also based on the 767.
However, IAI argues that its proposal is more attractive than that of Boeing, since it can sell such aircraft to the Israel Air Force at half the price. The KC-46 costs $250-300 million, whereas IAI is offering its converted aircraft for $150 million, with no significant shortfall in capacity and performance, the report said.
The restriction that Boeing is expected to place on IAI in the context of the bidding to supply tanker planes to the Israel Air Force is well known to the Israeli defense establishment. "This is a serious restriction, and regrettably, and there is genuine regret, IAI is ruled out of the process," a defense source involved in the matter told "Globes".
According to the source, any Boeing aircraft that IAI converts from passenger configuration to cargo or fuel tanker configuration must receive a special permit from Boeing, as the manufacturer and the owner of the intellectual property in the aircraft's design. A source close to Boeing confirmed this to "Globes", and said that in order to receive the required permits, for every Boeing aircraft that IAI converts to a different use it pays Boeing between $500,000 and $1 million.
The Israel Air Force's current tankers are used Boeing 707s converted by IAI in the early 1980s, and the Air Force seeks to replace them.