posted on Sep, 2 2013 @ 10:02 AM
As if the tanker shortage in the US isn't bad enough already, now the government is looking to basically give
the Israeli Air Force several
KC-135 tankers. Yes, they would probably be out of the boneyard, after undergoing a depot level refit, but if they can do that for Israel, why not do
it for the US?
Many years ago, in the 1990s, when we had E and R model tankers, I can remember watching fighters sit on the ramp for so long that they would have to
perform a Functional Check Flight before they could fly again. The reason they were waiting? They broke during their scheduled move, and were having
to wait for a tanker going the right direction to piggyback on. On one occasion it took 88 days to finally get a tanker going the right direction,
and by then the fighters had sat so long they broke.
The original deal proposed to Israel, under the Excess Defense Articles Program would allow the US government to either give, or sell at a seriously
reduced rate military equipment to foreign countries, was for 3 KC-135E models. Israel has said they'll only look at a deal if they are R models,
with the CFM-56 engine, and they're looking for 12 of them.
To date the US has sold off tankers to France, Turkey, Singapore, and Indonesia. Most of them are boneyard examples, but there is a noticeable and
increasing tanker gap in the US military. The first of the reengined R models have been retired to the boneyard, and more will surely follow.
The Israeli air force says it will only evaluate a US offer to sell it surplus Boeing KC-135 tankers if the aircraft involved are R-model
Washington has so far only proposed the sale of three KC-135Es, worth around $200 million.
Israeli sources say the air force has made it clear it prefers the CFM56-powered R-model aircraft. These are included in the USA's excess defense
articles programme, which allows Washington to give its allies military hardware for free, or at a greatly reduced price.
The Israeli service is looking for new tankers, and surplus KC-135s were included in a US offer of equipment several months ago, which also featured
the Bell-Boeing V-22 tiltrotor.
Israeli sources say that if the USA agrees to supply the longer-range KC-135R a deal could include 12 examples, to be transferred after undergoing
depot maintenance in the USA.