A Boeing KC-46A Pegasus
A Boeing KC-46A PegasusREUTERS

The Israeli military has signed a contract with the American aircraft manufacturer Boeing to acquire four refueling tanker aircraft, the company said.

Boeing announced the deal with Israel’s air force Wednesday, saying the IAF agreed to pay $927 million for four KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft.

“As part of the signed contract, Boeing will also provide support services for the refuelers, maintenance and repairs, logistics and other assistance to adapt the planes to Israel’s needs, in a way that will ensure full readiness to carry out its missions for the Israeli Air Force,” the company said.

Under the Trump administration, the US State Department gave clearance in March 2020 for Israel to purchase up to eight KC-46 aircraft.

The first of the KC-46A aircraft is expected to be delivered to the Israel Air Force in 2025. The remaining aircraft are slated for delivery a year later.

The IDF has sought new aircraft to replace its aging fleet of 707 tanker planes.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz expressed his appreciation to the US Defense Department for green-lighting the sale.

“I began promoting this agreement, which includes the expedited implementation of U.S. FMF [foreign military financing], two years ago, in coordination with the Ministries of Finance and Justice. This essential initiative will be launched after the Israel Ministry of Defense will sign the agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense.”

Refueling tanker aircraft allow aircraft, including warplanes, to refuel in midair, effectively multiplying their operational range.

Such aircraft are considered critical for long-range airstrikes, and would likely be necessary to facilitate any airborne Israeli operation in Iran.