US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will finalize a huge arms deal with Israel during his visit starting Saturday, under which Israel will for the first time be permitted to purchase US aerial refueling planes and other ultra-sophisticated military equipment that could prove vital to any Israel strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Prominent among the Israeli purchases are an undisclosed number of KC-135 aerial refueling planes. Previously, the US refused to sell such planes to Israel. “The change of policy,” Israel’s Channel 2 reported on Friday night, constitutes “something of a hint over the understandings between the two nations regarding the possibility that Israel will seek (US assent) to strike at Iran.”
The “new generation of KC-135 refueling tanker planes would let Israel’s warplanes stay in the air longer, an ability essential for any long-range mission — like a strike by Iran,” the New York Times reported Friday.
Also being purchased by Israel are V-22 Osprey aircraft, a tilt-rotor hybrid that can take off and land like a helicopter and then fly like an airplane, as well as precision-guided missiles and advanced radar for Israeli fighter aircraft. It would be the first sale of the V-22 to a foreign nation. “Israel could use the Osprey for patrolling its borders, coastline and out to sea, and for moving troops to troubled areas,” Friday’s Times report said.