by: Yoav Zitun, Itamar Eichner
Wednesday, 23 September 2020 | When Defense Minister Benny Gantz departed for the United States late Monday for a meeting with American counterpart Mark Esper, he took with him a list of munitions Israel says it needs to maintain its military superiority in the Middle East.
The two were expected to discuss US weapons sales following the purported sale of F-35 fighter jets and other advanced weapons systems to the UAE [United Arab Emirates], as part of that country’s decision to sign a normalization agreement with Israel.
US President Donald Trump announced his intentions of completing the sale to the UAE despite concerns Israel would lose its military advantage in the region if the F-35 is in the hands of an Arab nation.
Gantz held consultations with IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and senior defense officials before his departure.
Sources said Israel may demand an earlier supply of Boeing KC-46 Pegasus, a military aerial refueling and strategic military transport aircraft, [which] was scheduled to be delivered in four years’ time.
The US has green-lighted the sale of eight jets to Israel for [US] $2.4 billion dollars.
Israel may also be able to purchase advanced F-15 EX, earmarked to become the next generation IDF bombers by 2023, with improvements to its engine power, weaponry, aeronautic attributes and its cyberwar capabilities.
Gantz was also to discuss future acquisition of advanced long-range capabilities.
The Defense Ministry said in a statement that Gantz would be holding talks vital to maintaining Israeli military superiority in the region and to the ongoing efforts to combat Iranian aggression.
The defense minister, though flying on a commercial airliner, was separated from the rest of the passengers and was expected to quarantine for five days upon his return.
He was accompanied by two staff members and a security detail.
Posted on September 23, 2020
Photo Credit: DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando/flickr.com
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