The Defense Ministry has taken the next step towards the purchase of Bell Boeing’s V-22 Osprey, issuing a price request to the US Navy’s international programs office for the tilt-rotor aircraft, reports Trend citing to Jerusalem Post.
According to reports, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi has determined the operational need for some 12-14 aircraft which can take off and land like helicopters but fly like fixed-wing planes. The V-22 are designed for sensitive, extensive missions both during times of war and routine.
Israel first expressed interest in Boeing’s V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft in 2012 and two years later the US Department of Defense had notified Congress about its intention to sell six of them to the Jewish State in a $1.13 billion deal.
In June Rick Lemaster, director of Boeing’s Vertical-Lift Global Sales and Marketing, said that the company is talking to “about a dozen” countries interested in the platform and noted that Israel has “shown strong interest.”
“We were very close with Israel, back in December 2014. There were some domestic issues in that country that caused the LoA-related process to stop,” Lemaster was quoted by Flight Global as saying at the Paris Airshow in June. “As they’ve recently gone through another election, we think V-22 is still on their list of things they’d like to go acquire. We are hopeful that they will prioritize that and there’s sufficient funding to go make that happen.”
Lemaster stressed that prospective buyers need to place their orders by September of next year.
“We are getting to the end of the window if you’ve been putting off buying the V-22. With the current multi-year III contract about half-way through its five-year run, international customers need to be having LoAs (letters of acceptance) signed with the US government by about September 2020,” Lemaster was quoted by Janes as saying.
The IDF is modernizing its squadrons of aging fighter jets and helicopters. According to the defense source who spoke to the Post last year, the IAF understands the need for a mix of heavy-lift helicopters and the V-22.
Primarily used by the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) since entering service in 2007, the V-22 has seen extensive action in Afghanistan and Iraq supporting long-range rapid reaction and crisis response missions.
The multi-role combat aircraft uses tiltrotor technology, combining the vertical performance of helicopters (such as take off and landings) with the speed, altitude and range of fixed-wing planes, making it an ideal plane for special operation missions since it does not require a runway.
If purchased, Israel would be the second country outside the United States to deploy the V-22. Japan bought four of the aircraft in 2016.