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Israel to receive additional CH-53K helos

An artist's impression of the CH-53K in Israeli service. The IDF is to receive 12 helicopters, which it will use for heavy lift, long-range personnel recovery, and special mission insertion/exfiltration duties. (Lockheed Martin)

The US Navy (USN) has contracted Lockheed Martin to build a further eight CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters for Israel, the company announced on 24 August.

The Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement was part of a wider USD2.7 billion contract for the manufacture of 35 Lot 7 and Lot 8 helicopters to be delivered from 2026 and brings the number now under contract for Israel to 12.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is to field a bespoke ‘exportable variant' of the CH-53K, featuring newly developed country-specific systems and sensors. Israel selected the CH-53K as its replacement for the Sikorsky CH-53D Yasur, opting for the platform over the Boeing CH-47F Chinook and Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey.

The CH-53K is able to carry three times as much weight as the legacy CH-53 through a combination of more powerful engines and advanced rotor blades and has been designed to perform better in ‘hot and high' conditions. The platform's internal cabin is able to accommodate a range of payloads including a Humvee and it can lift up to three independent external loads at once. Other improvements include a ‘glass' cockpit, fly-by-wire flight controls, a low-maintenance elastomeric rotor head, a locking cargo rail system, external cargo-handling improvements, and survivability upgrades.

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