Boeing is offering a version of its CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter as a possible replacement for the Israeli air force's Sikorsky CH-53 fleet, as the service is also showing continued interest in the Bell Boeing V-22 tiltrotor.

The air force has previously outlined plans to continue operating its existing CH-53s until it can acquire Sikorsky's new-generation CH-53K, now under development for the US Marine Corps.

Boeing's promotion of the Chinook is defined as a "capability presentation", with the manufacturer claiming that the type represents the best available replacement for Israel's upgraded CH-53s. Sources have referred to the aircraft on offer as being a CH-47G, with this suggesting that some capabilities could be comparable with the US Special Operations Command's MH-47Gs.

At this stage the Israeli air force does not have the budget for a CH-53 replacement, but sources say that a decision will have to made in the next three or four years due to the age of its current assets.

The air force also has an additional operational requirement for the V-22, with the service's commander, Maj Gen Ido Nehushtan, having flown on the type during a visit to the USA.

Israeli pilots and technical experts completed a thorough evaluation of the V-22 at US Marine Corps facilities last year, with their report having favoured the purchase of an undisclosed number to perform special mission operations.

The air force had wanted to include the V-22 in a new multi-year plan for the Israeli defence forces. That plan has not yet been approved, because of a major budget dispute between the nation's defence and finance ministries.

Source: Flight International