Defense Ministry chooses CH-53K as IDF’s new heavy-lift helicopters

CH-53Ks are an "urgent" replacement to the aging "Yasur" helicopters.

Lockheed Martin Sikorsky's Ch-53K on the tarmac at Berlin Air Show (photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)
Lockheed Martin Sikorsky's Ch-53K on the tarmac at Berlin Air Show
(photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)
The Lockheed Martin’s CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter has been chosen to replace the IDF’s aging Yssur helicopters, the Defense Ministry announced on Thursday.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz accepted the recommendations presented by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and Defense Ministry Director-General Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amir Eshel to select the CH-53K helicopters as the IDF’s new heavy-lift aircraft, as part of the IDF’s “Tnufa” (Momentum) multi-year plan.
The Yasur helicopters have been in service with the IAF since the late 1960s.
Eshel, a former IAF commander, warned in November that the IDF “urgently” needed a new heavy-lifter platform, saying: “There is no country in the world that flies platforms that are this old,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The decision to purchase new heavy-lift helicopters for the IAF is a significant step in improving the IDF’s force build-up,” Gantz said following the announcement on Thursday. “It is also essential to the IDF’s ability to carry out a wide range of operational activities. The new helicopter is adapted to the [IAF’s] operational requirements and to the challenges of the changing battlefield.”
The ministry said in a statement that the decision was made following a professional assessment that included test flights in all the proposed aircraft, as well as a thorough examination of the various alternatives in terms of engineering, technology, maintenance and other considerations.
All details, including the number of helicopters requested, will be brought for approval to the Ministerial Committee for Procurement.
The purchase comes as part of a major aircraft procurement deal between the IDF and the US worth billions of dollars.
The Defense Ministry said earlier this week that it is buying two aerial refueling tankers.
The Boeing KC-46a tankers are intended to replace Israel’s aging Re’em fleet, which consists of converted Boeing 707s.
As part of the deal, the ministry will purchase two other tankers. It also exercised its option to purchase another F-35 squadron.