The Israel Air Force will send a delegation of officers to the United States later this month to conduct a review of the V- 22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft that it has its eye on for search and rescue and covert operations behind enemy lines.

The delegation of officers from different units within the IAF will meet with representatives of the US Marine Corps, which operates the aircraft in Afghanistan, and review its performance and adaptability for operations in Israel.

The IAF has had its eye on the V-22, made by the Boeing Company and Bell Helicopter, for a number of years, and senior officers including Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz have flown on it and were impressed with its capabilities.

The IAF had originally considered using the V-22 to replace its aging fleet of Sikorsky Sea Stallion CH-53 transport helicopters – called Yasour in Israel – but due to the V-22’s smaller size it is being looked at as a complementary platform to assist in IAF search-and- rescue operations and in dropping special forces behind enemy lines.

Following the review of the V-22, the IAF Helicopter Directorate will submit a recommendation to IAF commander Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan as to whether the IDF should buy the aircraft.

What makes the V-22 unique is its ability to take off vertically like a helicopter, with its rotors in an upright position, and then to shift the rotors 45 degrees downward, allowing it to fly like a regular transport plane, reaching speeds of up to 300 knots, almost double that of a helicopter.

The V-22 can transport 24 combat troops, or more than 9,000 kilograms of internal or external cargo, and has a range of more than 4,000 kilometers with a single aerial refueling.


In related news, the IAF plans to issue a request for proposals in the coming weeks to Israeli companies to submit bids on upgrade work aimed at extending the lifespan of its aging fleet of Hercules C-130 transport aircraft.

Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries are expected to compete for the tender, which will include replacing the C-130s’ wings and avionics as well as installing new electronic systems. Once operational, the aircraft will see their lifespans extended by at least 15 years.

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