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Israel signs the purchase of two Boeing KC-46 tankers for its Air Force

The Israel Defense Ministry signed a letter of approval with the multinational aerospace and defense company Boeing to supply two KC-46 Pegasus air refueling aircraft. With the signing of this document, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) becomes the second foreign operator of this aircraft after Japan, which has ordered 4 units. The agreement comes after Washington’s adoption in March 2020, administered by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which allows the IDF to equip itself with up to 8 aircraft of this model for in-flight refueling or tankers.

In the next phase, according to the Israeli Defense Ministry, two more refueling planes will be bought with the idea of ​​having a fleet of eight planes in the future. All tankers commissioned will be tailored to the Israeli configuration and operational requirements of the Air Force. In addition, Israeli systems will be integrated into the aircraft. Delivery of the first aircraft is expected in the middle of the decade.

The Israeli Air Force, officially known as the Air and Space Force, currently operates a fleet of seven old Boeing KC-707s for these tasks. The signing with Israel is very good news for Boeing’s KC-46 program, which has struggled to acquire international customers and has suffered delays and cost overruns due to manufacturing and design issues.

The United States Air Force is the main customer for the KC-46 Pegasus. There are currently 94 aircraft under contract and a total of 179 aircraft until the order from Japan was the only customer. The Tokyo and Jerusalem governments must have a great deal of defense dependency and affinity with the United States in several programs such as the 5-generation F-35 fighter-bomber that led to the adoption of the very problematic KC-46 versus the Much more reliable and sophisticated Airbus Defense & Space (DS) A330-200 multi-purpose tanker transport (MRTT).

The Japanese order for KC-46 had an important milestone on February 9th as the first of these aircraft destined for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) left Paine Field in Everett, Washington state on February 9th. flew at the airfield) where the factory of the North American company is located, where the tankers that use the platform of the Boeing-767 airliner (Julio Maz Sanz) are manufactured.

Photo: An F-15I fighter-bomber is refueled here as the Israel Space Air Force’s KC-46. (Photo of the Ministry of Defense of Israel)

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