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Israel Air Force [IAF] - Modernization

The mainstays of the combat element of some 500 fighter aircraft were of four types: the F-16 multirole tactical fighter, the first of which became operational in Israel in 1980; the larger and heavier F-15 fighter designed to maintain air superiority, first delivered in 1976; the F-4 Phantom, a two-seater fighter and attack aircraft, delivered to Israel between 1969 and 1977; and the Kfir, an Israeli-manufactured fighter plane first delivered to the air force in 1975, and based on the French-designed Mirage III. The air force also kept in service as a reserve older A-4 Skyhawks first acquired in 1966. All of these models were expected to be retained in the inventory into the new century, although the Skyhawks would be used primarily for training and as auxiliary aircraft.

The air force inventory also included a large number of electronic countermeasure and airborne early warning aircraft, cargo transports and utility aircraft, trainers, and helicopters. Attack helicopters such as the AH-64 Apache, Hughes Defender and AH-1 Cobra add a new dimension to the land battle. Sikorsky and Bell helicopters transport troops and equipment while performing assault, medevac and rescue missions in both war and peace. The IAF is interested in acquiring squadrons of 24 Apache Long-Bow combat helicopters - double the number originally planned. In the context of the deal, existing IAF Apaches will be upgraded to include the advanced Long-Bow elements including radar and missile systems. The transport fleet includes the Boeing 707 and Hercules C-130 aircraft as well as the locally produced Arava short take off and landing (STOL) transport. Boeing 707s had been converted for in-flight refueling of F-15s and F-16s.

Israel's project to design and build a fourth-generation indigenous jet fighter, the Lavi (lion cub), was cancelled in 1987 because of expense. Instead, Israel was to take delivery of seventy-five advanced F-16C and F-16D fighters produced in the United States. In July 1999 the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, chose to purchase the F-16I, to modernize the IAF. In a parallel development, all the IAF long-range F-15I planes purchased in 1998, had already entered service. Israel at first ordered 21 of the F-15I aircraft, and later increased its order to 25. The process for delivering F-16Is to Israel began in earnest in February, 2004. Israel expected to receive 102 F-16Is in total. [In American nomenclature, the "I" stands for Israel, though some in Israel suggest it stands for Iran, the intended target of these ultra-long range aircraft]

FAR Technologies developed an implementation for adapting existing fuel tanks to be carried on F-16 weapon stations. The installation of fuel lines flows fuel from the outboard weapon stations (3 and 7 on the F-16) to fuel tanks pylons, (stations 4 and 6 on the F-16). IAI/Lahav is working on the necessary adaptations for Israeli F-16s. The installation, which can be applied in only two hours, enable the F-16 to carry a total of five external fuel tanks, adding 25% to the mission radius on attack missions. Israel's IMI offers a higher capacity 600 Gallon external fuel tanks for the F-16, which can replace the 370 gallon tanks.

On November 17, 1999 the Government of Israel requested a possible sale of 700 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) tail kits, MK-84 inert bombs, testing, spare and repair parts, support equipment, contractor engineering and technical support, and other related elements of program support. The estimated cost is $45 million.

On 18 July 2002, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Israel of Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) tail kits as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $27 million. The Government of Israel requested a possible sale of 1,000 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) tail kits, 50 MK-84 inert bombs, testing, spare and repair parts, support equipment, contractor engineering and technical support, and other related elements of program support. The estimated cost is $27 million.

On 1 June 2004, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Israel of Joint Direct Attack Munitions as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $319 million. Specifically the Government of Israel has requested a possible sale of: 5,000 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) tail kits (which include 2,500 GBU-31 for MK-84, 500 GBU-31 for BLU-109, 500 GBU-32 for MK-83, and 1,500 GBU-30 for MK-82 bombs).

In August 2015 Israel completed nine years of upgrade work on its fleet of 23 CH-53 helicopters, with the Sikorsky-manufactured helicopters now reportedly capable of flying to 2025. The aircraft were upgraded by the Israeli Air Force at approximately $2 million per unit, reportedly a fraction of the cost that outsourcing the work would have entailed.

  • Israel to get its own version of Air Force One By HERB KEINON \ 05/04/2014
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  • Finance C'tee supports purchase of Israeli Air Force One 22/12/2009, 15:30 Lilach Weissman
  • Israeli Air Force One

    Does Israel really need an Israeli Air Force One? Since 2001, the country has rented planes from Israeli airline companies for the prime ministers trips. Until that time an old air force Boeing 707 was placed at his disposal, but it was unable to make a transatlantic flight without stopping to refuel, and was eventually decommissioned. While every government since Ariel Sharons has discussed purchasing a plane, the issue had been considered politically loaded and as such avoided since any prime minister who approves it ran the risk of being accused of excessiveness and lavishness. A study by the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Finance found that procurement of a plane for the prime minister's use would repay the investment within five years. The Knesset Finance Committee announced 22 December 2009 that it supported the procurement of a plane for use by the prime minister on foreign trips, a kind of Israeli Air Force One. The committee meeting was initiated by MK Abraham Dichter (Kadima). Finance Committee chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said, "The measure is proper, but it should be weighed against economic aspects." No such economic aspects had yet been presented to the committee and it will again discuss the matter when it obtains the necessary information.

    During a Knesset plenum discussion on the issue, Deputy Minister of Finance Yitzhak Cohen said that the intention was to buy a used plane, which the Israel Air Force would operate. The plane would also be used for air-to-air refueling for combat jets. The Air Force already operates Boeing planes for this purpose. Cohen said that it was possible to coordinate the two missions, because air-to-air refueling, mostly for training missions, could be held when the prime minister is in Israel, and the plane is not needed for international trips.

    Israel's Prime minister and president will as a result of a cabinet decision on 05 April 2014 soon have a dedicated plane available to transport them around the world. The cabinet approved the recommendations of the Goldberg Committee a public committee established in December and headed by former Supreme Court justice and state comptroller Eliezer Goldberg to purchase an Air Force One-type plane for Israels leaders at an estimated cost of between NIS 50m. to NIS 70m.

    The Goldberg committee was told during hearings that, in the absence of a plane equipped with the necessary defensive equipment, Netanyahu has not because of security reasons been able to travel to some countries he would like to visit. In 2012 Netanyahu, for instance, canceled what would have been an historic trip to Africa with planned visits to Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, and South Sudan because of security concerns regarding the prime ministers plane. Likewise, the planes are not equipped with state-of-theart, secure communications systems, depriving the prime minister of the ability to be in touch with Israel when flying abroad; often as on trips to the US sometimes for 12 hours at a time. The purchase of the plane might end the continuing scrutiny by the press on how much each trip abroad costs the state. Transporting the prime minister and president abroad the prime minister on planes rented from Israels airline carriers, usually EL Al, and Peres in first class on commercial airliners cost on average of some NIS 19 million a year. Netanyahu was skewered in May 2013 when it was revealed that the state spent some NIS 450,000 to outfit a leased El Al plane with a double bed in an enclosed room for a five-hour flight to London to attend Margaret Thatchers funeral.

    Israel Hayom reported in August 2016 that after years of using chartered planes for overseas travels, the government planned to buy a used commercial plane that would be fitted with various communication and defense systems. The cost of the aircraft and the overall refurbishing is estimated at $70 million. According to the plan, the plane will enable Israeli leaders to carry out their duties in full while airborne and have room for some 100 people. Air Force One is a large aircraft, seating 70 passengers in comfort compared to Trump Force Ones 43 passengers.

    An Israeli company would refurbish the yet-to-be-purchased plane, and would need about a year to fit the necessary technology according to the criteria set by a special committee comprising representatives from the Shin Bet security agency, the Transportation and Road Safety Ministry and the Finance Ministry. A company had already been chosen through a bidding process but its name cannot be published for security reasons. Accordingly, the plane could be ready by mid-2017 at the earliest. The plane would have an estimated maintenance cost of about 30 million shekels (about $7.8 million) per year. The American presidential 747s cost $325 million each and their cost of operation comes to $179,750 per hour. The hourly cost of operation for a standard 757 is just over $8,000 by comparison.

    The decision to use a tender for the construction of a jet for the prime minister and president was taken following a recommendation by a committee headed Judge (emeritus) Eliezer Goldberg that also included former Israel Air Force commander Ido Nehushtan and accountant Iris Stark. They recommmended building a custom-made aircraft. The General Security Services were also involved in the process. The members of the committee were persuaded that a personal plane to serve the Prime Minister would also be an appropriate option from a security point of view and noted that other heads of state had their own personal aircraft. The committee recommended that the plane would also be able to serve other important state figures.

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    Page last modified: 04-03-2020 14:13:29 ZULU