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Israel steps up interest in KC-46 tanker

Israel's air force has been briefed on the status of the US Air Force's in-development Boeing KC-46A tanker, and has an immediate request for at least two examples.

A recently-announced delay to the USAF programme is one reason behind the Israeli air force pushing for a decision, a source in the country indicates. "An early decision will expedite the delivery," the source adds.

Boeing and the USAF have said the first KC-46A Pegasus will be delivered in August 2017, having slipped from a previous goal of March. All 18 of the aircraft covered by initial orders should be handed over by the end of January 2018, they add.

The Israeli source, who says delay could affect delivery dates of Israeli aircraft, notes: "We see a lot of action around the urgent operational requirement and it is for good reasons."

Israel hopes to acquire the KC-46A to replace its converted Boeing 707 "Re'em" tankers, and has indicated a desire to include the type as one of its highest operational priorities within a 10-year military grant now being negotiated with the authorities in Washington DC.

Meanwhile, the Israeli air force's flight-test centre has for the first time conducted an in-flight refuelling trial of the service's new Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 "Samson" tactical transport behind a 707 tanker.

"The C-130J/30 is longer than our older C-130 and we had to check our capability to air-refuel a longer aircraft," says the centre's chief flight-test engineer, identified only as Lt Col Ori. "We checked the best procedure for such a manoeuvre and the effect of the special systems that had been installed on our Samsons," he adds.

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