Israel cleared to buy Pegasus tanker aircraft

04 March 2020

The KC-46A Pegasus would enable Israel to retire its ageing Boeing 707 and Lockheed Martin KC-130H platforms. Source: Boeing

Israel has been cleared to buy the Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker-transport aircraft, with US State Department approval being announced on 3 March.

According to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) that disclosed the approval, Israel has been cleared to buy up to eight aircraft and related equipment for an estimated cost of USD2.4 billion.

As noted by the DSCA, the sale of the Pegasus to Israel would provide the United States assets in the region with some redundancy during high-operational tempo, freeing up American equipment for use elsewhere in time of war.

The notification did not provide a delivery timeline.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) currently fields eight Boeing 707 tanker-transport aircraft that it first received in 1973, and four Lockheed Martin KC-130H tanker-transports from 1976. Both of these ageing platforms have increasingly been suffering from serviceability issues, with a replacement type or types now long overdue.

The potential Pegasus sale must now be approved by the US Congress.

The KC-46A is a 767-2C provisioned freighter with a 767-400 flight deck (this flight deck features the Rockwell Collins large format displays of the 787 airliner). The KC-46A has a minimum crew of three comprised of a pilot, co-pilot, and mission system operator/officer. It can carry 96 tonnes of fuel, although it should be noted that the KC-46A loses much of its underfloor cargo space with auxiliary tanks in doing so.

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