When the defence budget is strained to its limits and beyond, only thinking out of the box may help.
This happens now in Israel, where operational needs are increasing by the month, and the budget does not match the pace of new requirements.
In recent months the ministry of defence has begun looking for ways to answer all the needs, or the most urgent ones, by using methods that until now looked unacceptable in that context.
It will not be easy to change the way things have been done for decades but need is the mother of invention and this is a classic situation in which needs cannot be met by only using the good old methods.
This is why I was not surprised to learn that Boeing is evaluating “novel” methods that will enable the Israeli air force (IAF) to introduce the CH-47 into its inventory.
The evaluation is based on the assumption that the budget limits will not allow the IAF to make a direct purchase of the CH-47 in the coming years.
Sources said that a few ideas are being evaluated, among them a private finance initiative (PFI) deal in which a third party will purchase the helicopter and supply flight hours.
So far, the unwritten rule was to use a PFI only for trainers, but the heavy budget restrictions may change that.
As reported by Flight, Boeing is offering its CH-47 Chinook helicopter to the IAF.
The US manufacturer has told the IAF that the CH-47G is the best available replacement for its CH-53s, which have been undergoing continuous upgrades.
The IAF’s original plan was to operate its CH-53s until it could acquire the new Sikorsky CH-53K, now under development.
The Sikorsky CH-53 (Yasur) 2025 upgrade includes the installation of 20 new systems, among them a very advanced EW system and a satcom system that expand the CH-53′s operational capability.
The Boeing offer is defined as a “capability presentation”. At this stage the IAF does not have the budget for any CH-53 replacement.