Israel’s ministerial committee on defense procurement has approved a $2.4 billion agreement to acquire CH-53k heavy-lift helicopters from American aerospace firm Lockheed Martin.
Using aid money from the US, the country will purchase 10 to 15 CH-53k helicopters to replace its aging fleet of Sikorsky CH-53 Yasur helicopters to address the Israeli Air Force’s operational requirements amid “the challenges of the changing battlefield.”
Designed to lift nearly 14 tons (12,700 kilograms) of payload, the CH-53k allows the quick and efficient movement of troops and heavy equipment from ship to shore and higher altitude terrain.
The aircraft also features a fly-by-wire control system, making it semi-automatic. It can also perform in high, hot, low-visibility, and sea-based environments at a maximum speed of 172 miles (276 kilometers) per hour.
Additionally, the CH-53K is fitted with fully integrated flight and navigation displays, as well as a mechanical diagnostic system that signals when aircraft parts need to be replaced.
‘Improving Air Force Capabilities’
Earlier this year, the Israeli government announced that it chose Lockheed Martin’s CH-53k King Stallion over Boeing’s CH-47 to replace the Yasur.
The Yasur has been the country’s primary military helicopter to transport soldiers and equipment since 1969, taking part in a wide variety of missions, including secret operations and search and rescue.
Although the Yasur has been upgraded numerous times to meet the air force’s operational demands, it needs to be replaced by 2025 as it will be more than 50 years old.
The US State Department has reaffirmed its commitment to assist Israel in developing and maintaining a “strong and ready” self-defense capability to address any potential threats.
“The proposed sale will improve the Israeli Air Force’s capability to transport armored vehicles, personnel, and equipment to support distributed operations,” the department said in July. “Israel will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense.”