As a decision on acquiring new tankers for the Israeli air force becomes time-critical, two options are the subject of a heated debate within the nation’s defence ministry.

The air force has made an immediate request for at least two in-flight refuelling aircraft, having previously identified the replacement of its tanker-adapted Boeing 707s as an urgent need.

Options for the requirement include the Boeing 767-based KC-46A, and used examples of the commercial twinjet, to be converted by Israel Aerospace Industries.

“The ministry will have to evaluate the details and make a speedy decision to answer the operational needs of the air force,” an Israeli source says. The current debate is between those who want to use a Foreign Military Financing budget from the USA to purchase new tankers and others who believe that using converted aircraft would be a more cost-effective solution.