TEL AVIV --- A report in Israeli media Globes on March 8 suggested that Israel is considering moving forward with two large acqusitions of U.S. made aircraft systems. The country may order a new squadron of fighter jets and a number of helicopters.
According to the report, "Israel is likely to buy a squadron of Boeing's upgraded F-15s and must choose between Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin's CH-53 K helicopters or Boeing's CH-47 Chinook." Some of the financing for the purchases will come from U.S. foreign military financing (FMF), which is set to increase to $3.3 billion annually (not including funds allocated for missile upgrades) under an agreement reached last year between the outgoing Obama Administration and the Israeli government.
The new aid package will take effect beginning in 2019 and last a decade. Currently, Israel receives $3.1 billion annually in FMF.
Globes reported that Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman recently met with U.S. Vice President Michael Pence, as well as retired General and current Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Defense Minister Lieberman may also meet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for discussions on a range of topics, possibly including aircraft purchases.
The Globes report noted, "During Moshe Ya'alon's term as Minister of Defense, the defense establishment consensus was that new F-15s were needed. Over the past year, the air force considered the procurement of 75 F-15s, but postponed the decision."
Though Israel is in the midst of bringing F-35s into service -- the first two arrived in December 2016 -- the country does not want to be reliant on only one type of aircraft.
As for the helicopters, Israel is interested in acquiring new transport helicopters, to replace aging systems currently in operation. The country is considering between the Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin CH-53K and Boeing CH-47 to fill its upcoming requirement.