Monday, September 6, 2010
IAI Flight-Tests Converted Tanker for Colombian AF
Itzhak Nissan, President and CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries: "We are proud to be working with such a distinguished customer as the Colombian Air Force, and are pleased to have been chosen to take on such critical projects as supplying and upgrading Kfir aircraft and supplying aerial refueling aircraft. These projects reflect IAI's strength and its integrative capabilities."
BEN GURION INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Israel --- A series of successful flight tests aimed at opening the flight envelope have been completed for the pre-owned B767-200ER (Extended Range) aircraft, converted by Bedek Aviation Group of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to a Multi Mission Tanker Transport (MMTT) configuration for the Colombian government and the end user, the Colombian Air Force.
The converted aircraft is equipped with two Wing Air Refueling Pods (WARPs) of the ARP3 model, developed and manufactured by IAI.
During the first 3.5-hour flight test, the full envelope, including altitude, speed, and Mach number, was opened without any flutter or buffet problems. Additional in-flight refueling tests of a C10 Kfir fighter jet, also produced by IAI, were successfully completed.
The MMTT pilot reported an extremely smooth flight with no technical events.
The air refueling system functioned very well, and the first hook-ups and fuel transfers were the most exciting moments of the flight. IAI's test pilot team that flew the aircraft reported that the systems performed flawlessly. The pilot of the Kfir (the aircraft being refueled) appreciated the easy, stable hook-up in each of the two WARPs.
As previously reported, IAI was awarded a multi-year contract in 2007 worth more than $150 million to upgrade the Colombian Air Force's Kfir aircraft. In June of 2009, the first Kfir aircraft were redelivered to the Colombians, and have been in operational activity ever since.
The tanker conversion project, which lasted more than two years, was completed by IAI's technicians, flight test pilots, and engineers, all of whom contributed to the development and integration of the air refueling system into the B767. Their dedication and hard work culminated in the minutes during which the tanker and the Kfir met in the air and performed the hook-up, an "exciting and proud" moment for those involved in the project.
IAI's chief test pilot Ronen Shapira, who flew behind the B767-200ER in a G250 business jet aircraft, also confirmed the smooth flight: "The flights were successful, and the aircraft performed extremely well with the air refueling pods. The aircraft performance and overall stability of the aircraft and the drogues all displayed impressive results."
Eli Hattem, General Manager of IAI's Bedek Aviation Group, commented: "These successful flight tests are an important milestone in this conversion. We are pleased to report that everything is progressing smoothly and look forward to continuing to strengthen our ties with the Colombian government and its Air Force."
In the coming days, the B767-200MMTT will perform additional flights before its redelivery to the Colombian Air Force.