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Fleet pressure prompts Israel to rebuild scrapped CH-53

With no immediate substitute for the Israeli air force's Sikorsky CH-53 transport helicopters in the frame, the service has decided to rebuild one aircraft which was cannibalised for spare parts and dumped in a scrapyard several years ago.

The need to reactivate aircraft 985 is one outcome following an Israeli CH-53 Yasur crash in Romania in July 2010.

Six Israeli crew members and one Romanian observer were killed when the aircraft came down during a joint exercise.

According to a report in the Israeli air force magazine, the service's 22nd maintenance unit will perform the rebuild, which will fit the aircraft to its modernised 2025 standard.

Israeli air force CH-53 Moti Shvimer
 © Moti Shvimer

The upgrade, already being carried out on all Israel's operational CH-53s, will see the installation of 20 new systems, including an advanced electronic warfare suite, and a satellite communications fit to expand the type's operational capability.

The project will also introduce an altitude hold-and-hovering stabilisation system and a laser obstacle ranging and display capability.

Israel plans to continue flying its current fleet until it can acquire Sikorsky's new-generation CH-53K, under development for the US Marine Corps.

Only the CH-53K is designed for the type of missions Israel's Yasur helicopters are required to perform, the air force says.