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February 14, 2016 4:33 pm

Israeli National Security Expert on Reports US Willing to Sell IDF Refueling Planes: ‘America Not Afraid Israel Will Attack Iran in Near Future’

avatar by Ruthie Blum

The Boeing KC-46 Pegasus. Photo: Wikipedia.

The Boeing KC-46 Pegasus. Photo: Wikipedia.

“Israel already figured out how to create its own refueling planes for fighter jets, but it’s always better to have equipment built originally for such purposes,” an Israeli national-security expert told The Algemeiner on Sunday.

Dan Schueftan, who heads the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa, was responding to a query about reports that the United States has agreed in principle to sell top-of-the-line refueling planes to Israel, with the only potential point of contention surrounding the price, not political opposition from the Obama administration, Hebrew news site nrg reported.

According to these local and foreign media reports, Israel wants to purchase two Boeing KC-46s for $250 million each. Nrg says that the first test of the KC-46 refueling an F-16 fighter jet was conducted on January 24, and a second test, on a US Navy F/A-18 aircraft, on February 10.

The KC-46 is a militarized version of Boeing’s 767 commercial jet, according to Defense News, and its refueling rate is approximately 4,500 liters per minute. The US military is reportedly planning on purchasing 179 such planes.

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Schueftan said that American acquiescence to sell such planes to Israel “is not so dramatic,” but stems from two current realities:

“The Obama administration likes to show that it’s giving Israel things it didn’t agree to before,” to make it look as though it’s being magnanimous. “But also, it’s because Israel has already proved that it can make its own refueling planes, which it did when it succeeded in taking Boeing 707s and adapting them accordingly.”

So the only difference here, Schueftan said, is that the KC-46 planes probably have a greater fuel capacity.

Furthermore, Schueftan claimed, “In the wake of the nuclear deal, the US is not afraid that Israel will attack Iran at the moment” – one possible reason for enhancing refueling capabilities. “And Israel’s motivation to do so is no longer prophylactic, as it was before. Now it will only act if Iran egregiously violates the deal in such a way as to threaten Israel, which it has no interest in doing at this point. Meanwhile, as Obama himself has said, he won’t let Iran go nuclear ‘on his watch,’” a term that is ending in less than a year.

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