Hindustan Aeronautics (Bangalore HAL) will shortly flight a tender for the purchase of six second-hand B767s to be converted into tanker aircraft for the Indian Air Force in line with an agreement from April 2022, The Hindu has reported.

An official from the manufacturer said the tender, acquisition, and conversion of the aircraft will likely take three to four years. While HAL did not specify which B767 variant it would seek, it will carry out their conversion in cooperation with Israel Aerospace Industries.

The Indian Air Force currently operates six Soviet-era Il-78MKIs as its only multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) and has been looking to replace them with new aircraft for a while. Boeing manufactures tanker derivatives of the B767-200 - the B767-200(KC-767) and the B767-2C(KC-46A) - but there are currently no converted B767-based MRTTs in service, the ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Indian and Israeli firms also covers future cooperation in cargo conversions.

HAL said it was also evaluating acquiring B747-400s retired by Air India and converting them into freighters. The Indian flag carrier owns four of the Boeing quadjets which were retired in 2020 and 2021 and eventually deregistered as of May 1, 2022. They remain parked at Mumbai Int'l airport.

Neither Air India nor any other Indian airline operates any B767s.

In a separate programme, the Indian Air Force is in the process of converting six ex-Air India A320-200s into airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.