The Israeli air force is planning a series of major enhancements to its rotary-wing fleet, including the upgrade of additional Boeing AH-64A Apache attack helicopters and a possible purchase of Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotors.
Israel operates 18 new and remanufactured AH-64Ds (below), and part of its remaining fleet of A-model aircraft are now candidates for modernisation to the Longbow configuration. "These helicopters have unprecedented operational benefits, and we want more of them," says a senior air force source.
© Israeli air force magazine
The source also confirms that there is an ongoing evaluation of the V-22, noting: "We think that it is logical to evaluate this seriously as a part of the force structure." An Israeli air force test pilot will soon fly the Osprey at a US Marine Corps base, the source adds.
© US Navy
Additional air force modernisation efforts include a recently completed major upgrade to the service's Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, and a new programme to enhance the capabilities of its Sikorsky CH-53 transports. The CH-53 2025 programme includes the installation of 20 new systems, including advanced electronic warfare equipment, a satellite communications suite, an altitude hold and hovering stabilisation system, a laser obstacle ranging and display system and new main gear boxes.
Network-centric warfare systems are also being added to several of the air force's helicopter types under the improvement drive.
The air force has also begun the search for a replacement for Aerospatiale SA565MA helicopters operated from the Israeli navy's Sar-5 missile boats. "We will need a replacement for these helicopters to keep the operational qualities of our navy," the air force source says.