Pfluger Introduces Bill To Train Israeli Pilots In Necessary Aircraft To Defend Israel From Iran
Rep. August Pfluger (TX-11) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to train Israeli pilots to operate KC-46 refueling aircraft before Israel receives its KC-46s from the United States in 2025. This early training will expedite Israel’s fielding of the KC-46 and will help credibly deter Iran. The bill guarantees a small U.S. KC-46 presence in Israel until Israel’s KC-46s reach full combat capability. The measure has support from MACH 1 Caucus Members Representatives Mike Garcia (CA-27), Rob Wittman (VA-01), and Jake Ellzey (TX-06), as well as Representative David Trone (MD-06). It is also endorsed by FDD Action and the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA). Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas).
Congressman August Pfluger: “As a former fighter pilot, I can personally attest to the extensive training that is required for pilots—especially when it comes to complex aircraft like the KC-46. Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East, and Israeli pilots shouldn’t have to wait until 2025 to begin their training. I’m proud to join Senator Cotton in introducing bipartisan, bicameral legislation that ensures Israel can use these planes to deter Iran and other aggressors as soon as possible.”
Senator Tom Cotton: “America needs to provide our Israeli allies with the military capabilities they need to protect themselves from an increasingly dangerous Iran. Training these pilots now will send a message to Tehran and will ensure that Israel is able to use these planes the day they receive them.”
JINSA President and CEO Michael Makovsky, Ph.D. said: “Speeding delivery of KC-46 aerial refueling tankers to Israel—and training Israeli pilots—is critical to enhancing Israel’s ability to defend itself by itself against the Iranian threat. Only such a credible military threat against Iran can deter its aggression and nuclear breakout, both of which advance U.S. national security interests. JINSA applauds the MACH 1 Caucus for their leadership.”
FDD Action: “In recent months, we have witnessed a dangerous and worrisome expansion of the Russia-Iran military axis that threatens US national security interests and that of our allies. That’s one reason the introduction of the ‘Expediting Israeli Aerial Refueling Act of 2023’ is so timely. To deter and defeat a potential sprint by Iran to a nuclear weapons capability, Israel needs to modernize its aging aerial refueling fleet. The legislation would expediate the training of Israeli pilots, crews, and maintenance personnel to operate the KC-46 aerial refueling aircraft. Israel has already purchased these planes, but they will not be available for delivery until late 2025 and 2026. This legislation would allow Israeli personnel to train with U.S. service members to operate the aircraft rather than waiting until 2025. This legislation merits the support of Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who have recognized the threat posed by Iran, a threat that has only been compounded by its military mendacity and growing ties with Russia.”
The Expediting Israeli Aerial Refueling Act of 2023 would:
- Direct the Air Force to train Israeli pilots in the operation and maintenance of the KC-46 at U.S. bases and to make slots available for Israeli pilots to participate in a training exchange program.
- Require the Department of Defense to provide a report on the requirements for the forward deployment of U.S. KC-46s in Israel and to require at least one U.S. KC-46 to be forward-deployed in Israel until the arrival of Israel’s KC-46 aircraft in 2025.