A Defense Ministry probe has cleared Israeli authorities of any wrongdoing in
the alleged attempted sale of helicopters – formerly used by the Israel Air
Force – by Spanish businessmen to Iran.
Last month, the Defense Ministry
opened an investigation into claims that Spanish police had arrested a group of
businessmen trying to sell American helicopters formerly owned by Israel to the
Spain stops sale of former IDF helicopters to Iran
According to news sources in Spain, five Spanish
businessmen and three Iranians were arrested in an operation called “Nam,”
during which a number of Bell-112 military transport helicopters were seized.
Israel had used the Bell-112 up until the 1990s when it purchased the Sikorsky
HU-60 Blackhawk as a transport helicopter.
According to the Israeli
probe, in March 2005, the Defense Ministry signed a contract to sell 16 surplus
helicopters to a Swedish company called ESP. Israel asked and received approval
for the deal from the Pentagon, since the aircraft are of American
Before selling US military equipment, Israel is required to
receive permission from the Pentagon. It also generally has buyers sign
documents obligating them to certain restrictions such as not selling them to
The helicopters were supposed to be used by the Swedish company as
firefighting aircraft in Scandinavia and Germany. Three of the helicopters were
transferred to the customer in February 2006.
In August 2006, ESP signed
a contract and transferred ownerships of six helicopters to a Spanish company
that also declared its intention to use them in firefighting
In 2008, US authorities gave their approval once again for
the deal. Six more helicopters were then transferred to Spain between July and
At a later date, Israel’s deal with ESP was canceled
after the Swedish company failed to meet the payments it had committed to under
the contract. The seven remaining helicopters were offered in an international
tender and were sold to another foreign customer. The deal was approved by the
US and the aircraft are pending delivery.
The Defense Ministry said on
Sunday that it was continuing to cooperate with the Spanish investigation, but
stressed that Israel had upheld all of its obligations and had received approval
from the US for every stage of the deal.