Friday, November 1, 2013
(En - 01 Nov 2013) US to expedite delivery of V-22 Osprey aircraft to Israel
The US will fast-track delivery of six V-22 Osprey helicopter-plane aircraft to Israel, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Thursday in his address to the Anti-Defamation League's centennial conference in New York.
NBC News reported that the Pentagon agreed to send Israel the next batch of Ospreys to come off the production line after Israel requested this week that the delivery of the aircraft be expedited amid threats from Iran and Syria.
The next group of Ospreys had originally been slated for assignation to the US Marines, a Pentagon official told NBC.
"Israel will get six V-22s out of the next order to go on the assembly line, and they will be compatible with other [Israeli defense] capabilities," Hagel was quoted by NBC as saying at the ADL conference.
According to the report, Israel could receive the Ospreys, which take off vertically like a helicopter, but fly like a regular transport plane, in as soon as two years.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and Hagel finalized the deal for the Ospreys during a visit by the US secretary of defense to the Jewish State in April. The deal is part of a wider $10 billion package involving US sales to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, designed to provide Washington’s allies in the region with enhanced military capabilities against Iran.
Israel will be the first foreign country to receive the V-22 Osprey from the US.
Ya'alon took a test flight on an Osprey during a visit to Washington in June, AFP reported at the time.
What makes the V-22 unique is its ability to take off vertically like a helicopter, with its rotors in an upright position, and then to shift the rotors 45 degrees downward, allowing it to fly like a regular transport plane, reaching speeds of up to 300 knots, almost double that of a helicopter.
The V-22 can transport 24 combat troops, or more than 9,000 kilograms of internal or external cargo, and has a range of more than 4,000 kilometers with a single aerial refueling.
The IAF has had its eye on the V-22, made by the Boeing Company and Bell Helicopter, for a number of years. The US has used the aircraft for operations in Afghanistan.
The IAF has looked at the Osprey as a complementary platform to assist in IAF search-and-rescue operations and in dropping special forces behind enemy lines.