The Israeli Air Force may decide to replace its aging fleet of transport helicopters with new, twin-rotor Chinooks from Boeing Co. However, no immediate comment was available from the military or Israeli Defense Ministry.
Soldiers of the IDF’s Nahal Brigade during a drill, May 22, 2012. Israel Defense Forces
The Israeli military may be on the verge on replacing its fleet of transport helicopters, having been in service since 1969, with new, twin-rotor Chinooks from Boeing Co. While the Israeli military and Defense Ministry made no immediate comment on the matter, Boeing Israel President David Ivry told Reuters on Sunday that the deal is “a matter of months” after the Chinooks were recommended to the air force by the chief of Israel’s ground forces.
Currently, the IDF operates a group of Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters, purchased and upgraded through Lockheed Martin Corp. Israel upgraded that fleet at the turn of the century, and while the IDF does not release how many helicopters it currently operates, sources within the military said that the IDF was looking to buy around 20 more transport helicopters. Israeli media had reported concerns about the rising price tag of new variants of the Sikorsky helicopters, and an unnamed senior military official had formerly expressed a preference for Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook helicopters as a replacement. However, other outlets reported that the military was also considering aspects such as the helicopters speed, payload capacity and distance without fuel.
As the IDF launches an emergency preparedness military drill this week, the capabilities of the Sikorsky helicopters will be put to the test. But even Ivry said that the IDF also considers “the question of money” when making a decision, saying he also can’t exactly give a date on the announcement as the IDF has to consider how the Chinook “fits into the IDF’s multi-year budget.”