US and Israel Sign Agreement for Refueling Aircraft and 12 Helicopters

The Defense Ministry in the State of Israel recently entered into an agreement with the government of the US to purchase no less than 12 Lockheed Martin CH-53K helicopters, along with two refueling aircrafts, specifically, Boeing KC-46. The Procurement Delegation of the US Defense Department signed a couple of letters of acceptance (LOAs) with the Jewish state late on Thursday evening. This action was taken to replace the existing helicopters and aircraft. As of now, the Air Forces of Israel use CH-53 Yasur helicopters, which are heavy lift, as well as Boeing 707, or Ra’am tanker aircrafts, which are usually employed by the country for long-range missions. 

The Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, added how the agreements for the procurement of these helicopters and aircraft are important milestones in the force buildup processes, being undertaken by the IDF. He went on to add that the country is making numerous efforts to ensure that its current capabilities are strengthened. Moreover, Israel is aiming towards changing and adapting its Air Force to face and fight any challenges that may arise in the future. The deal made related to the helicopters has been estimated at a cost of USD $2 billion. 

The first shipment is expected to be brought to the State of Israel in the year 2026, along with the opportunity to purchase six additional helicopters. The papers were personally signed after an agreement with the US Navy. The signatory on the agreement was Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Ben Baruch, the chairman of the Defense Ministry Mission to America. Just last February, the Jewish state announced that it would be purchasing one squadron of different helicopters, namely, CH-53K, instead of their usual CH-47, produced by Boeing. 

The announcement by the relevant officials made it clear that they would be replacing their fleet of Yasur helicopters, operating at their Tel Nof Air Base. The Yasur is frequently used by the Israel Air Force as its primary helicopter, ever since the first one was used in the year 1969 by the IAF. It is used to transport equipment, as well as soldiers, and has been employed in a broad variety of missions. These also include some secret operations, along with important search and rescue missions. 

The Chief Executive, Joshua (Shiki) Shani, of Lockheed Martin Israel, went on to say that the company is going to remain committed towards the Air Force of Israel and provide them with quality heavy-lift helicopters to aid it in critical missions. According to the statement, their helicopters, coupled with the new ones, will ensure the strength of the national security of the country for years to come. The company concluded its statement by saying that its CH-53K helicopter, which was designed and developed by Lockheed Martin, is one of the most efficient, reliable, and capable solutions to have met the needs of the IAF. 

The agreement signed for the procurement of two refueling aircraft, manufactured by Boeing, has been estimated to have a worth of around $1.1 million. The two newly purchased ones with be added to the force of the IAF, along with the two already acquired. 

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