V22 Osprey helicopter 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy US Air Force)
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
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.
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.