The mystery around the Israel “Air Force One” grows. In spite the huge amount of money spent so far , the aircraft is not in service and sources say that there are “heavy problems to be solved” before it goes into service.
The special systems that are being installed in the Israeli “Air Force One” have brought the price of the project to more than US$180 million. This is according to Israeli sources who pointed to an added cost until the aircraft is ready for service.
In the meantime, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) is getting ready to operate the 767 “Air Force One” aircraft immediately after it is delivered.
The conversion of the 767 included the installation of the Elbit Systems MUSIC system that protects the aircraft from shoulder launched missiles and other systems.
In 2016 the Israeli cabinet has approved a budget for the purchase of an “Air Force One ” style aircraft that will serve the Israeli Prime Minister.
The budget of app. US$100 million was supposed to cover the purchase of the aircraft and its conversion for the mission.
But as the conversion progressed, some extra demands were added by the relevant bodies , and that resulted in a need for an additional budget.
The official forecast now is that the aircraft will go into service in early 2019 , but sources say that there is a “big question mark” over that date.
The converted 767 is supposed to perform flights of Israeli VIP mainly the prime minister and the president.
On October 16 sources said that during the conversion work that has been performed so far , “design and regulatory ” problems surfaced , and have to be solved before the aircraft is certified.
In the meantime Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu travels on official visits by using passenger aircraft leased from Israeli airline EL AL.
The conversion work is performed in a facility in central Israel , under heavy security measures.
By Arie Egozi
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