The [Israeli] Ministry of Defense is considering the procurement of new training helicopters made by Italian company AgustaWestland for the Israel air force. The air force and Ministry of Defense are seeking to replace the outmoded Bell Sayfan 206 helicopters currently used for helicopter cadets in flight training.
The air force received its first Sayfan helicopters in the early 1970s, and more advanced Bell 206 models were delivered during the 1980s. Since they were obtained by the air force, they have been used mainly for missions of patrolling, observation, light transport, rescue, evacuation of casualties, etc. In recent years, these helicopters have undergone a series of adaptations for use in training cadet pilots in the air force flight school at the Hatzerim base.
The Ministry of Defense has not yet decided which AgustaWestland model will meet the training needs of future air force helicopter pilots. In recent months, the Ministry of Defense Procurement and Production Directorate has been conducting a preliminary procedure of obtaining information about possible aircraft for this mission, in cooperation with professional air force personnel, including the establishment of budgetary frameworks for financing a future deal.
"It is still preliminary," Ministry of Defense deputy director general and Production and Procurement Directorate head Brigadier-General (res.) Shmuel Zucker confirmed to "Globes." "We are adding information and considering it from all angles. Later, the air force will decide what it wants and what is right for it, according to its professional standards. In any case, for years the air force has been discussing its need and wish to update its training helicopters."
While the air force wants to renew its fleet of training helicopters in order to save on the high maintenance costs for its outmoded helicopters, the Italians are also very interested in a deal, while consolidating and strengthening the defense ties between the two countries. (end of excerpt)
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