By Arie Egozi
The expected initiative of Lockheed Martin and Airbus to offer the A-330 as the next aerial refueling aircraft of the Israeli air force (IAF), has been discussed in recent days in internal deliberations of the relevant bodies in Israel. The first reaction according to sources is that this is a “problematic” initiative.
The sources said that in spite of the fact that the A-330 will be manufactured in the US, it is still an Airbus product.
“A country like Israel that gets US$3.8 billion every year as FMF cannot purchase such an aircraft that is actually a French product” one of the sources said.
In recent weeks it became clear that Lockheed Martin and Airbus may offer their American made A-330 MMRT aerial refueling aircraft to the IAF.
The IAF is in an urgent need for 6-8 aerial refueling aircraft to replace the current very old converted 707 (Reem).
This expected proposal is based according to the sources, on the recently signed agreement between Lockheed Martin and Airbus.
According to this agreement, Lockheed Martin and Airbus will jointly “explore opportunities to meet the growing demand for aerial refueling”.
The joint proposal is based on the manufacturing of the Airbus A-330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (A330 MRTT) in the US.
According to the Israeli sources, the A-330 MMRT can be offered to Israel as an option, because as an American product, Israel will be able to purchase it with FMF grants.
The sources said also that the surprising initiative, may be looked at in a “different light” due to the problems with the Boeing’s KC-46 A.
US Transportation Command is making preparations to push back the planned retirement of some KC -135 due to more delays in the KC-46 A program.
Lockheed is in a competition with Boeing on supplying fighter aircraft and heavy helicopters to the IAF.