Israel to Procure Attack Helicopters, Air Tankers From Lockheed Martin, Boeing
Tel Aviv earlier procured F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighters from the US, which are capable of striking ground targets from afar while remaining undetected by air defences. Israel has repeatedly hinted that it might take action against Iran if it considers the Iranian nuclear programme an imminent threat to the country.
Israel has signed a deal with the US government to buy military aircraft worth $3.1 billion from two American defence giants - Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The Israeli Defence Ministry said that the deal includes two Boeing KC-46 refuelling planes and 12 Lockheed Martin Corp CH-53K cargo helicopters. The deal also includes an option to buy extra six CH-53K helicopters.
According to the ministry, the deal is seen as an upgrade of the Israeli Air Force's capabilities. The first Boeing KC-46 air tankers will arrive in 2025, while the first CH-53K helicopters will be delivered to Israel in 2026.
The deal comes as Israel has intensified its threats to take action against Iran if it considers the country's nuclear programme too dangerous. Iran has repeatedly warned Tel Aviv against making the mistake of attacking the country and stressed that it does not seek to create a nuclear weapon.
In the light of Israel's threats, reports of the purchase of refuelling planes were seen by local media as a sign of preparations for possible strike missions against Iran in the future. However, the chief of materiel for the Israeli Air Force, Brigadier-General Shimon Tsentsiper, assured Israel's Army Radio that the country already has the capabilities to carry out its missions, but did not delve into details.
The procurement of new military aircraft takes place amid Israel's criticisism of efforts by the US and other countries to resurrect the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Negotiations are being held in Vienna on how best to return to compliance with the accord after Washington's withdrawal from it in 2018 practically rendered it useless. However, little progress has been achieved so far in finding common ground on restoring the deal.
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