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Preparing for attack in Iran? Israel purchases four aerial refueling planes from Boeing

The U.S. State Department approved the sale of up to eight of the tankers to Israel in March 2020

Illustrative - US Air Force Boeing KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling plane connects to a fighter jet, January 22, 2019. (Photo: Ethan Wagner/US Air Force)

The State of Israel has completed its purchase of four American in-air refueling planes, KC-46s, from The Boeing Company, said a press release on Thursday. 

Does this indicate that Israel is preparing to carry out attacks against a nuclear Iran?

The tankers would allow Israeli Air Force bombers to carry out remote operations, strengthening their position in the face of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and equipping the IAF for potential attacks in Iran. The shortest distance by air between Iran and Israel is 1,071.54 miles (1,724.48 kilometers).

According to the official website of the U.S. Air Force, at full operational capability, the KC-46 tanker is “able to refuel most fixed-wing, receiver-capable aircraft.”

The Boeing website hails the jet as having “proven aerial refueling systems and capacity to support the full spectrum of missions.” The U.S. Air Force has used thousands of the tankers in operational sorties. 

In March 2020, the U.S. State Department approved selling Israel up to eight of the tankers, making the Jewish state set to become the third country to use Boeing’s military tankers, after the U.S. and Japan. The Jewish state’s interest in the KC-46 dates back years, according to Air Force Magazine

Israel’s Ministry of Defense and the Pentagon finalized the purchase contract for four of the KC-46 tankers in late 2021 after a series of delays that caused concern for Israel’s security establishment. The deal is worth $927 million, an amount to be paid to Boeing as part of Washington’s overall military aid package to Israel. 

“While it’s good news that Israel’s efforts to acquire KC-46A refueling aircraft are moving forward, it’s disappointing that the first delivery is not scheduled until 2025,” said Michael Makovsky, president and CEO of Jewish Institute for National Security of America. “JINSA has been recommending since 2018 for the United States to rapidly provide Israel with these advanced aircraft, which are crucial to bolstering deterrence against Iran, enhancing U.S. negotiating leverage, and ensuring Israel has what it needs to defend itself by itself against the Iranian nuclear threat. Considering the likelihood of an insufficient and dangerous Iran nuclear deal being announced soon, it is critical that the United States fast-track the delivery of these aircraft to Israel.”

The joint announcement from Boeing and Israel comes as the Biden administration seems to be approaching signing a controversial nuclear deal with Iran that would lift sanctions, creating a financial influx into coffers that could be used in terrorism or proxy wars. 

Israeli officials, including caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid, emphasized in recent days that Israel would not be obligated by such an agreement and would continue to do everything they can to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear capability. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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