It was meant to kill two birds with one stone. The White House has invited the press to cover the beginning of a legislation process that, among other things, will enable Israel to buy KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft.
The timing was carefully selected – the eve of a visit by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to Israel, and when the pressure on Israel not to attack the Iranian nuclear facilities reaches a new peak.
The legislation, known as the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012, will allow Israel to purchase American KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft. Up until now, the Bush and Obama administrations refused to sell planes of this kind to Israel, primarily in order to bar it from launching a massive aerial strike on Iran.
It must be remembered that the road between the ratification of the legislation and an actual deal to buy or lease such planes is still long.
And even after final approval, it could be years before Israel gets the aerial tankers.
The only fact that was omitted from all reports about the agreement is that the Israeli air force (IAF) does not need the KC-135 to perform long-range strikes.
I am sure that the KC-135 or its successor are “nice to have” items on the IAF shopping list, but they are not something that may change Israel’s plans to attack, if they exist.
The upgraded 707s used by the IAF for aerial refueling are performing their task very well.
And another thing – the IAF buys American-made systems with the US foreign military financing (FMF) funds granted to Israel each year. This budget is stretched to its limit, especially after the IAF wanted and got a first batch of 20 very expensive F-35s.
So, you always have to look from a different angle to understand where things stem from, especially in an election year. You always have to look what is behind the nice words used in signing ceremonies between countries.