The USA is about to approve the sale of Bell Boeing V-22 tiltrotor transport aircraft and Boeing KC-135 tankers to Israel, according to industry sources, who indicate that the proposed deals are part of a larger package of agreements which also concern the planned sale of advanced weapon systems to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The wide-ranging deals are designed "not just to boost Israel's capabilities, but also to boost the capabilities of our Persian Gulf partners so they, too, would be able to address the Iranian threat," says one US source. New equipment will "also provide a greater network of coordinated assets around the region to handle a range of contingencies," the official adds.
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will visit Israel and Middle East region next week, when sources suggest the deals are due to be finalised.
Israeli air force magazine
The Israeli air force has evaluated the V-22 through numerous test flights performed in the USA, with the service having recommended purchasing an undisclosed number of the type for use during special operations.
Also expected to be contained within a deal are KC-135 tankers, which sources expect to replace the converted Boeing 707s currently used by the Israeli air force for inflight refuelling.