The USA has agreed to sell six Bell Boeing V-22 tiltrotor aircraft to Israel, but US officials do not say which version of the aircraft Israel will receive.
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel confirmed the sale during a speech 31 October at a dinner hosted by the Anti-Defamation League in New York, saying the US and Israel have a joint interest in countering threats in the Middle East.
Hagel told attendees that the US will “expedite” Israel’s V-22 order and that the aircraft will come from “the next order to go on the assembly line,” according to a transcript of Hagel’s speech.
That likely means the V-22s will be delivered within two years, taking production slots that were deferred by the US Marine Corps, according to reports.
The Department of Defense declines to comment on “proposed arms sales or transfers until we have completed the Congressional notification process.”
The Navy’s V-22 acquisition office says it is “encouraged and happy to hear of Secretary Hagel’s announcement.”
“We are standing by to support the government-to-government negotiations that are ongoing,” it adds.
Hagel did not say whether Israel will take delivery of the MV-22, used by the Marines, or the more-advanced VC-22, the US Air Force variant.
MV-22 lacks some of the cutting-edge electronics in the VC-22, which has a forward-looking infrared sensor and “other advanced avionics systems that allow it to operate at low altitude in adverse weather conditions and medium- to high-threat environments,” according to the air force website.
Hagel told attendees at the dinner that volatility in countries neighbouring Israel, like Egypt and Syria, are continued threats, despite ongoing steps towards peace.
Israel’s self-defence and military edge are central to the interests of both the USA and Israel, Hagel said.
“The V-22 Osprey [is] a tilt-rotor aircraft that will greatly enhance the range and effectiveness of Israeli special forces,” Hagel said.