Official: Israel Moves to Buy F-35 jets, KC-46 Refueling Planes, Munitions

YERUSHALAYIM /WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
A Boeing KC-46 aerial refueling tanker. (Christopher Okula/U.S. Air Force/Handout via Reuters/File Photo)

An Israeli ministerial committee approved the purchase of new jets, aircraft and munitions from U.S. companies, an Israeli official said on Tuesday, in a deal that would be worth billions of dollars.

“A ministerial procurement committee has approved the purchase of a new F-35 squadron, four new refueling planes, and a large quantity of munitions,” the official said, on condition of anonymity to discuss matters still under negotiation.

It would be the first foreign military sale to Israel announced under the new administration of President Joe Biden. Since sales take months to process, the genesis of the deals likely dates back to the Trump administration.

Israel has been considering the purchase of KC-46 refueling planes made by Boeing Co for some time and has also been eyeing an additional squadron of 24 or 25 F-35s, which are made by Lockheed Martin.

The Biden administration temporarily paused some pending arms sales to U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in order to review them.

Although the Israelis have approved the purchase, the U.S. Congress requires notification of major weapons sales like the F-35 before a contract can be signed. Notification of a potential sale of up to eight KC-46 refueling aircraft to Israel for as much as $2.4 billion was sent to Congress in 2020.