To win the tender of RAF Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft, Boeing, BAE systems and British Airways formed Tanker Transport Services Consortium to offer air-to-air refuelling to military jets, using converted aircraft based on the B767 passenger jet. BA would provide the aircraft, Boeing would provide the conversion technology, and BAE systems would perform the majority of the aircraft modifications.

Roughly speaking, how much does it cost and how much labour hour is needed to convert a B767 airliner to military aerial refueling and strategic transport aircraft?

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    $\begingroup$ As this a miltary-related related operation, it may be classified. $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 20:48
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    $\begingroup$ @ManuH I don't see why anything asked in this question would be classified. Budgets are usually a matter of public record and the time it would take to convert a plane is something that an enemy could probably guess sufficiently accurately that there'd be no point in classifying it. (OK, "no point in classifying it" doesn't mean "it's not classified" but...) $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 22:52
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    $\begingroup$ It seems to cost a lot. E.g. PLA AF uses IL76 and modified it into KJ2000, but still bought IL78 instead of building one from stock IL76. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 16:31

1 Answer 1


It's very difficult to answer this question directly, mostly because that the costs you or I would face when undertaking such an endeavour are primarily capital in nature. For a large airline (or other organisation), they'd have staff and equipment on hand already, and the price an organisation like BA or BAE pay for parts is almost certainly different to the list price.

That being said, the deal in question is notoriously bad value for money. From that source, the taxpayer will be paying around £10.5 billion for 14 Airbus A330 troop transport/tanker jets with a capital value of only about £1 billion, although the deal also includes maintenance. Although converted to military specification, the converted passenger jets will not be flying into a war zone any time soon.

Interestingly, it appears that the government itself didn't really know the answer to 'how much will this cost', even as they were signing the contract to provide new aircraft. Specifically, a critical report from the National Audit Office concluded that there was 'poor access to full cost data – the Department never gained visibility of detailed sub-contractor costs and margins for the aircraft and their modification'.

In other words, nobody knows!


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