In what appears to be a response to the growing tensions with Iran, Israel’s Ministry of Defense has requested the US hasten delivery of eight Boeing KC-46 refueling airplanes ordered earlier this year but expected to arrive only in two years.
The request comes in the face of growing concerns over the aggressive stance being taken by Iran and its brazen nuclear weapons program. Israel has requested that four of the eight KC-46 planes be delivered as soon as possible in order to allow Israel Air Force (IAF) fighter jets to reach targets across the Middle East.
The initial order for the KC-46’s came as a number of the older Boeing 707 passenger planes that had been retooled to serve as refueling aircraft have been grounded. They are over 60-years-old.
The call to hurry up delivery of the new planes comes as Iran continues to pursue its nuclear program while stepping up its militaristic rhetoric against the Jewish nation. The new KC-46’s Israel needs are able refuel three fighter jets at the same time, and get the job done much quicker that the old retooled 707’s. In addition, they are equipped with ballistic armor including anti-missile defense warheads and a night vision system allowing the pilot to refuel in complete darkness.
The new KC-46 is critical to enable the IAF to reach the distances necessary to strike Iran, should the need arise. The new refueling planes are part of a broader program to arm the IAF with the newest fifth generation F-35 stealth combat aircraft to insure Israel’s military edge across the entire Middle East.