Washington has denied an Israeli request to fast-track the shipment of two tanker aircraft that Israel ordered, as plans for a potential military strike against Iran should their nuclear plan move ahead, Ynet reported on Monday.
In October, Israeli Defense Ministry sources said that senior Israel Air Force officers requested that the delivery of four KC-46 tanker aircraft from the US be expedited, asking that two of them be brought to Israel immediately. They also requested that the other two be delivered within the next 2-3 years.
According to the report, Jerusalem hopes to persuade the US over the next year.
The US State Department approved the possible sale of up to eight KC-46 tanker aircraft and related equipment to Israel for an estimated cost of $2.4 billion last March. This marks the first time the US allowed Jerusalem to purchase new tankers.
Israel was supposed to acquire two of the Boeing aircraft by late 2023. When former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visited Washington last, he brought up the issue that two out of the eight tankers be delivered in the next year.
The more advanced tankers will replace Israel’s Ram tanker aircraft which are needed for long-range missions and are close to 60-years old.
Israel’s fleet of Ram airplanes, whose amount is confidential, are ex-civilian aircraft modified for military use including aerial refueling for fighter jets.
The new KC-46 tankers have the capability to refuel jets with 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute. The aircraft also features wing air refueling pods enabling three jets to be refueled simultaneously within 3-4 minutes.
The tankers boast a range of 11,830 km., and a capacity to unload roughly 207,000 lbs. of fuel. The KC-46 could refuel more than 64 types of aircraft.
This type of refueling tanker would be crucial for a military strike against Iran since an aerial assault on the Israelmic Republic would demand more than a thousand kilometers in each direction.
On a recent visit to the US, Defense Minister Benny Gantz told American officials that he had presented US defense officials with a deadline for attacking Iran. There was no objection to Israel’s plans.