According to a report from The New York Times, Israel asked the US to accelerate the delivery of tanker aircraft seen as vital to Israel’s preparations to attack Iran, but the Biden administration said the first planes won’t be ready until 2024.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz made the request for the expedited delivery of Boeing-made KC-46 tankers during a meeting with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Washington last week. Gantz said that during his trip to Washington, he conveyed to US officials that he ordered the Israeli military to prepare to attack Iran.
The KC-46 tankers would refuel Israeli bombers in the air, allowing them to hit targets in Iran and return back to Israel. The Times report said without the KC-46s, Israel would have to rely on aging tankers or try to land in the UAE or Saudi Arabia.
Israel ordered eight of the KC-46s from Boeing, worth an estimated $2.4 billion. US taxpayers would foot the bill since the payment would come from the $3.8 billion in military aid the US gives Israel each year, according to the Times.
Israeli officials are constantly threatening to attack Iran, warning that Israel would “act alone” if needed. But without US assistance, Israel wouldn’t be able to hit the nuclear facilities officials say they want to target. Besides lacking the necessary tankers, Israel also lacks bombs with the bunker-busting capabilities needed to target Iranian nuclear facilities that were built underground.