Aircraft manufacturer Boeing on Thursday signed a contract with the US Department of Defense to supply Israel with four KC-46 refueling planes, the company said in a statement.
The multi-purpose aircraft provides in-flight refueling for aircraft – and combat aircraft in particular – and can also be used for military transport.
Israel needs these planes to carry out large-scale strikes against Iran, some 2,000 kilometers from Israel, beyond the flight range of Israeli planes.
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The KC-46 planes will take over from the Israeli Air Force’s aging tanker planes, converted KC-130 Hercules and Boeing 707s.
The new tankers are expected to arrive in 2025 at the earliest.
Israel has asked for that date to be brought forward — which would mean the United States has to wait longer to collect its own Boeings — but Washington has so far denied that request.
Under the terms of the contract, it is expected to cost Israel $927 million, taken from the $3.8 billion Israel receives each year from Washington under the ten-year memorandum of understanding between the two countries.
This same contract includes an option to purchase four other KC-46 aircraft.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz welcomed the signing of the contract, saying it was “further evidence of the alliance and strategic relationship” between Israeli and US defense.
“The supply planes we are purchasing, such as F-35s, heavy-lift helicopters, submarines and advanced weapon systems – will enable the IDF to deal with dangers near and far,” Gantz said in a statement. .
The very first KC-46 was delivered to the US Air Force in 2019, which ordered 179 units, to be delivered by 2027.