Israel has recently formalized its plans to purchase KC-46 aerial refueling tankers and additional F-35I aircraft from the US. Interestingly, this deal will not include the new F-15E Eagle variants, which the Israeli Air Force has long been interested in. Last month, the US government had allowed Boeing to sell F-15EX fighters to India.
According to reports, the Israeli government has also approved the purchase of ‘advanced munitions’ and new heavy-lift helicopters – expected to be newer variants of the CH-47 Chinook or the CH-53K King Stallion.
The procurement approvals for KC-46 aerial refueling tankers, fifth-generation F-35s, and the helicopters were given on Monday (February 22), after which the Israeli Ministry of Defense started working on them. According to the Ministry, a Letter of Acceptance (LoA) for two Boeing KC-46s was signed over the weekend. Another LoA will be signed soon for other equipment.
“The procurement plan based on U.S. security assistance is crucial to strengthening the IAF and for the IDF’s QME (Qualitative Military Edge) in the decades to come,” it said.
The illustrations posted with a tweet showed a KC-46 tanker refueling an advanced version of the F-15.
Following gov. approval of the IDF acquisition plan, the MOD has begun to construct procurement programs. These are conducted with US Military channels, utilizing Foreign Military Financing. The first LOA was signed over the weekend for the procurement of 2 Boeing Tanker Jets.1/2 pic.twitter.com/9vAE52G3a1
— Ministry of Defense (@Israel_MOD) February 22, 2021
Last year, Washington approved the potential sale of eight KC-46A tankers to Israel in order to replace its aging Boeing 707-based tanker fleet for an estimated cost of $2.4 billion.
However, the Jewish nation reportedly enquired about the first pair to be taken directly from the US Air Force to shorten the delivery timespan. The Israeli Defense Ministry posted images of the US Air Force KC-46 tankers.
Reportedly, Boeing was competing with the Israel Aerospace Industries’ Bedek Aviation Group, which offered second-hand Boeing 767s modified into tankers, which it had previously supplied to Brazil and Colombia.
However, it is not yet known when these KC-46s would arrive in Israel, as the type is currently seeing issues and would reach its full operational capabilities only by late 2023 or 2024.
The Israeli F-35I fighter jets have been an important tool for the Jewish nation to enforce its military supremacy in the Middle East. Flown by Israeli Air force pilots, the F-35Is made their combat debut in 2018.
Earlier it was thought that Israel would opt for a mixed deal for F-15E/EX and F-35Is, while there was no mention of the Eagles in the recent press release.
Last month, the US government had allowed Boeing to sell F-15EX fighters to India. With this, the US aerospace giant has launched a renewed attempt to impress the Indian Air Force with its potent multi-role fighter.
Ankur Kanaglekar, director, India Fighters Lead, Boeing Defense, Space & Security, had said, “Now that we have the marketing license, it allows us to talk to the Indian Air Force directly about the capability of the fighter. We have started doing that in a small way.”