The Israel Air Force’s 114th Night Leaders Squadron will be the first to receive the new CH-53K helicopters that are expected to arrive by 2026 to replace the aging Yasur helicopters.
The decision was made by IAF Commander Maj.-Gen. Tomer Bar.
Over the coming year, the two Yasur squadrons, the 114th Squadron and the 118th Night Riders Squadron, will be merged in order to “enable an optimal absorption process of the new helicopters,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said.
Following the consolidation of the two squadrons and completion of preparations for the incorporation of the new helicopters, the 114th Squadron will be re-established in 2025 as the final stage in the process.
“The scope of the operational Yasur helicopters will remain unchanged and they will continue their operational, overt and covert missions”IDF
The IDF said, “The scope of the operational Yasur helicopters will remain unchanged and they will continue their operational, overt and covert missions.”
Used by the 114th and 118th squadrons since 1969, the Yasur is the air force’s primary helicopter used to transport soldiers and equipment. They have been used in a wide variety of missions, including secret operations and search and rescue missions.
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The CH-53K King Stallion, the successor to the CH-53, is powered by three engines, giving it a cruising speed of 162 mph (261 kph) and a range of 530 miles (852 km.). Operated by a crew of two pilots and three gunners, it is fitted with self-defense weapons, ballistic protection, crash-worthy seats and retracting landing gear, significantly increasing aircraft and crew survivability.
The fuel tanks have also been designed to have inert gases pumped in instead of allowing oxygen to build up, giving it a lesser likelihood of exploding if hit by incoming projectiles.
The CH-53K is fitted with digital fly-by-wire avionics with fully integrated flight and navigation displays. It has a mechanical diagnostic system that notifies maintenance crews when a part needs to be replaced, and can carry three times the amount of cargo than older helicopters.
With a full fly-by-wire system, the CH-53K can be flown with a pilot in the cockpit or unmanned, and the helicopter will do exactly as it is programmed to do without any pilot input.
It has the growth potential to have the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) installed should the IAF decide to install such a system.
That ability will allow the air force to fly the helicopters deep behind enemy lines and carry out missions such as supplying troops and logistical support without placing a pilot at risk.