Israel’s version of Air Force One to be ready for December

The aircraft, which will have all the latest electronics, including a situation room, will serve the prime minister and president on official trips abroad.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

After more than three years in the works, Israel’s version of the Air Force One jet will be ready by the end of the year, Israeli television reported Tuesday.

The evening news show presented the first glimpse into the accoutrements of the refurbished 767 jet, which will be used by the prime minister and the president on their official trips abroad.

Although the plane is over 20 years old, it has been jam-packed with the latest electronics, including encrypted satellite communications, anti-missile systems, and full protection from cyberattacks.

Starting behind the cockpit, there is a workroom and bedroom, complete with private bathroom and shower. Then comes a kitchen and a meeting room, and further on, a fully equipped mini-situation room.

As with all airplanes, the main body contains seating, which will be used by the leaders’ advisers and aides and any accompanying delegations. The press contingent will have an internet-enabled area, furnished with computers and separated from the others by a partition. According to the model exhibited on the screen, the section seems to be one large business class, with four comfortable-looking chairs in each row, two on each side of a single aisle.

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The December delivery date is over nine months later than the original deadline. What raises eyebrows is the estimated cost of the first plane ever dedicated to the use of the country’s top leaders: some NIS 600 million. This is over three times the initial projections in 2015, when the government approved the purchase.

It was a controversial decision at the time because the Finance Ministry preferred the less costly status quo, according to which the government would lease an El Al plane for the Israeli leader whenever he flew abroad on official business. However, the Shin Bet favored the American way in order to ensure that the prime minister could oversee the affairs of the state in the most secure manner possible.