Israel to Buy Four Refueling Planes Amid Looming Iranian Nuclear Threat
Israel will purchase four Boeing Co. KC-46A refueling tankers in a deal worth $927.5 million as the country steps up its military readiness against the Iranian nuclear threat.
First deliveries of the aircraft, which will replace Israel’s aging fleet of Re’em Boeing 707 tankers, are expected to roll out in 2025. Under the terms of the contract, Boeing will also provide tanker services support, maintenance and repairs, logistics and fleet spares to the Israel Air Force fleet.
The deal, which has been brewing for some time, comes after the US Department of Defense on Wednesday awarded Boeing a contract to supply the refueling planes to the Israel Air Force.
The tankers are part of a procurement effort undertaken by the Defense Ministry together with the IDF over the past two years to strengthen the army’s capabilities, force buildup and preparedness to face existing and future threats, particularly from Iran.
During a call on Wednesday discussing the indirect nuclear deal talks with Iran, President Joe Biden reassured Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid with the US commitment to Israel’s security, and “to preserving Israel’s capability to deter its enemies and to defend itself by itself against any threat.”
Israel, which has been overtly opposed to the emerging nuclear deal between Western powers and Iran, has expressed that should it be signed, it will not obligate the country from acting to prevent Tehran from becoming a nuclear state.
Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz thanked the US administration for giving the green light on the “important” agreement for the delivery of the fuel tankers, which he hailed as “yet another testament to the powerful alliance and strategic ties between the defense establishments and governments of Israel and the United States.”
“I began promoting this agreement, which includes the expedited implementation of US FMF [foreign military financing], two years ago, in coordination with the Ministries of Finance and Justice,” said Gantz. “The refueling aircraft that are being purchased, along with the procurement of the F-35 squadron, helicopters, submarines and advanced munition will enable the IDF to face security challenges near and far.”
At the end of last year, the US and Israel signed a $3 billion defense deal for the supply of 12 Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky helicopters to replace the Yasur helicopters, and for two Boeing KC-46 refueling aircraft.