Daled Amos posted recently about the tanker kerkuffle, touching on a haaretz article which tied recent denied Israeli weapons procurement requests to re-fueling tankers and a possible Iran strike.
He of course threw in the what do you think tag lol, irresistible really since I don’t think this story is as clear cut as the small initial Haaretz article suggests.
I posted myself about denied procurement requests and looked at the F22 & advanced JDAMS, those two pieces of hardware would really make the difference and they are the stuff of lustful legend for procurement from the US.. These were the hardware pieces in deep discussions when Bush visited in May. But aside from that, multiple hardware pieces are in procurement plans so that in itself does not preclude tankers or the article’s assertion.
It may very well be that tankers were part of discussions, but is it tied to Iran? and what is the McCain link?
On the question of is this the hardware that if denied can prevent a strike and halt Israeli plans, the answer seems to point to no. Israel has 7+ large tankers. The Haaretz article talks about them being 40 years old, but this is the same fleet the US is flying and their tankers are also old. That is enough tankers to get the job done. Would more be better, surely they would especially if tankers are targeted in operations. But, and it is a big but.. Any new procurement of 767s for tanker purposes would likely not be ready or aloft anywhere near the proper time frames for an Israeli strike, these beasts would need to be built first and Italy & Japan are themselves in line picking up 8 total, 6 are not even in assembly. I don’t think this is Iran related as much as it is internal US politics related, and this is where the McCain link comes in.
A significant reason for tanker denials?
The US is currently studying revamping its own tanker fleet. Actually, that is understating things a bit. There’s been a multi-year ongoing scandal regarding these tankers stateside for US use and McCain is smack in the middle of it.
To be brief what is going on is a war between Boeing, Northrop the providers, and an internal struggle at the Pentagon and US legislative halls for where to invest billions for the tankers, at home or abroad, and further which manufacturer can provide a better plane for US armed forces use. At question has been contract awarding practices and the ping pong ball has been batted back & forth wildly, McCain is holding a paddle and a very visible position.(this story is too big to link to generally, here’s one recently from the FT on the situation, )
It seems much more likely that part of the multi-year plan in Israel involves tankers, perhaps tankers have been discussed maybe even denied at this time, but this is much more likely to do with the fact that the USA needs to resolve its tanker issues first, commit and procure before the added politics of selling disputed tankers to say Israel is added to the mix as this would certainly sway things that are already very delicate. As DA mentioned, Israel is currently in its own tanker conversion plan and this effort is fairly longstanding and is budget based. So Israel is looking to expand tanker abilities, but has already been working on this front beyond a large purchase of new aircraft. The US issues will likely be decided once Bush is out of office, further reason to not announce tankers sales right now.
Better put this one out first..
Further, the notion that Israel will have waited until August 2008 to procure tankers needed for a strike on Iran is somewhat crazy talk, because it would take the biggest mistake in military procurement history to rely on plans, fly actual test runs involving hundreds of aircraft (already tanking over the med) and generally prepare only to realize a few months later that you don’t have tankers..
McCain may be involved, Israel may be looking for tankers going forward, the Pentagon may have denied a request at this time more generally, but making this about Iran seems to be overlooking the much more obvious in the USA, the illogical and unadvised idea of throwing Israeli fuel on the already large US tanker fire which has the GOP presidential nominee intimately involved, worse he’s backing the Northrop deal and Israel likely would have picked up Boeings, that is reason enough right there to delay tanker talks.