The Israel Air Force has significantly upgraded the level of its cooperation with the United States Air Force and now receives regular updates on American procurement decisions, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
An agreement on the cooperation was reached at meetings last month between head of IAF Procurement and Equipment Brig.-Gen. Dr. Kobi Bortman and senior USAF officers in Washington and Dayton, Ohio.
Bortman, an expert on aircraft structural engineering with a doctorate from George Washington University in St. Louis, gave the Americans a demonstration of the IAF's Enterprise Resources Planning system. The system serves as a single database for both manpower and inventory lists and enables cost-effective maintenance of supplies and other resources.
The USAF, which briefed Bortman on its own new cost-saving system for keeping track of inventory, decided following the meeting to establish its own Enterprise Resources Planning database.
"We are interested in many of the same platforms and systems, and the Americans look at us as a small-scale laboratory of themselves," a high-ranking IAF officer told the Post. "Now every time the USAF signs a contract and purchases something new, they will update us."
The updates will only be given to Israel, the officer said, when America purchases a system or platform related to the IAF. An American delegation will come to Israel to meet with Bortman again toward the end of the year.
One issue of common interest for the IAF and USAF is the "J" model of Lockheed Martin's C-130 Hercules transport plane. Israel is considering purchasing the new model for its 40-year-old fleet of transport aircraft and in March submitted a Request for Information to Lockheed Martin to receive details on the J model's cost and performance.
India, Norway and Canada recently signed contracts to purchase the new aircraft.
The newest version of the Hercules, the J model is externally similar to the classic Hercules, but inside it is a different aircraft and includes new Rolls-Royce Allison AE21000 turboprops with six-bladed composite propellers and digital avionics, including heads-up displays for the pilots.
According to a top IAF officer, Israel would like to buy the new aircraft but is waiting to receive a price offer from Lockheed before it begins negotiations. The decision to buy the aircraft is also pending a decision in the General Staff.
The IAF is also considering sending its younger Hercules planes to Boeing Co. for an upgrade under the company's C-130 Avionics Modernization Program. In September, Boeing announced the first flight of a C-130 aircraft that had had its cockpit gutted and revamped to improve navigation and communication.