The US will fast-track delivery to Israel of six V-22 Osprey transport aircraft,
which are capable of both vertical and horizontal flight, US Secretary of
Defense Chuck Hagel said on Thursday in an address to the Anti-Defamation
League’s centennial conference in New York.
NBC News reported that the
Pentagon agreed to send the next batch of Ospreys to come off the production
line after Israel requested last week that the aircraft’s delivery be expedited
amid threats from Iran and Syria. The next Ospreys had been slated for the US
Marines, a Pentagon official told NBC.
“Israel will get six V-22s out of
the next order to go on the assembly line, and they will be compatible with
other [Israeli defense] capabilities,” the network quoted Hagel as saying at the
According to the report, Israel could receive the Ospreys
in as little as two years.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Hagel
finalized the deal during a visit by the US secretary of defense to the Jewish
state in April. The deal is part of a wider $10 billion package involving US
sales to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, designed to provide
Washington’s allies in the region with enhanced military capabilities against
Israel will be the first foreign country to receive the Osprey.
Ya’alon flew in one during a visit to Washington in June, AFP reported at the
What makes the Osprey unique is its ability to take off vertically
like a helicopter, with its rotors in an upright position, and then shift the
rotors 45 degrees downward, allowing it to fly like a regular transport plane.
It can reach speeds of up to 300 knots, almost double that of a
The V-22 can transport 24 combat troops or more than 9,000
kg. of internal or external cargo, and has a range of more than 4,000 km. with a
single aerial refueling.
The Israel Air Force has had its eye on the
plane, made by the Boeing Company and Bell Helicopter, for a number of years.
The US has used it for operations in Afghanistan.
The IAF sees the Osprey
as a complementary platform to assist in search-and-rescue operations and in
dropping special forces behind enemy lines.
Yaakov Lappin and Yaakov Katz
contributed to this report.