The United States has rejected a demand from the Israeli Air Force to facilitate the early delivery of two of the eight Boeing KC-46 Pegasus tankers ordered by the country.
The initial schedule was for two KC-46s to be delivered to Israel by 2023. In October 2021, sources in the Israeli Defense Ministry reported that a request was made by officers for four tankers instead of two to be delivered by 2024, including two “immediately”.
The Biden administration rejected the plea, according to Israeli news portal Ynet. The decision was announced during a meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on December 9, 2021, in which they discussed the US commitment to Israel’s security. Despite the rebuttal, the Israeli Air Force still hopes to convince the US to agree to an earlier delivery in 2022.
In total, eight Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tankers were ordered in March 2021 for an estimated cost of $2.4 billion. They are due to replace the nine aging KC-707 ‘Ram’ aircraft of the Israeli Air Force that have been in service for nearly 60 years. The Pegasus is regarded as a primary asset in the event of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The Pentagon hopes that the aircraft could “provide a redundant capability to US assets within the region, potentially freeing US assets for use elsewhere during times of war.”