Israel is modernizing its heavy-lift helicopter fleet and is considering two options for new rotary-wing aircraft to replace its aging CH-53 Yasur helicopters by 2025 when they will be over 50 years old.
First used by the IAF in 1969, the Yasur is the air force’s primary transport aircraft and while it has been upgraded with new electronic and missile defense systems as well as other improvements to extend service life, they will need to be replaced in the coming years. Two major American defense companies, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, both with long histories of providing Israel with military equipment are vying for the contract which will pit Boeing’s veteran transport helicopter, the CH-47 Chinook against Lockheed’s CH-53K King Stallion by Sikorsky, the maker of the Yasur.
According to Lt.-Col. (ret.) Reuven Ben-Shalom, a cross-cultural strategist and former CH-53 pilot in the IAF, the main issues that Israel should focus on when choosing the helicopter are its operational capabilities such as payload and distance.
“What does the State of Israel want from this helicopter? Will it be used for skirmishes near our border or for special operations and extracting forces and pilots from the range like Iran,” he told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, adding “how are you going to get [special forces] Sayeret Matkal to their operations?” The speed of the helicopter is also an important aspect that must be considered especially when they are given a mission to rescue a downed pilot, Ben-Shalom said.
Funding for the procurement is to come from part of the Memorandum of understanding signed in September 2016 between Jerusalem and Washington that would provide Israel with $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade. (end of excerpt)
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