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Update: Israel advances CH-53K helicopter, KC-46A tanker procurements

An artist's impression of an Israeli Air Force KC-46A tanker passing fuel to an F-15 Eagle. (Israeli MoD)

Israel has advanced the procurement of both the Lockheed Martin CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters and Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aerial refuelling tankers, with the announcement on 31 December that further agreements have been signed with the United States.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced the milestones, noting that the agreements cover the purchase of 12 helicopters and two tankers.

β€œThe procurement of these platforms is part of a wider MoD programme to strengthen the capabilities of the IDF [Israel Defense Forces], and preparedness to face current and developing threats,” the ministry said.

While these agreements do not represent the final contract signatures, Janes was told by an industry source that they are the final step in the process of acquiring the two new platforms.

Israel selected the CH-53K as its replacement for the Sikorsky CH-53D Yasur in February, opting for the platform over the Boeing CH-47F Chinook and Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) operates 23 Yasur helicopters that are used for heavy lift, long-range personnel recovery, and special mission insertion/exfiltration. In February the MoD also signed a letter of offer and acceptance for the first two of eight KC-46As to replace the Boeing Re'em tankers. These 707-derived tankers, dating back to the early 1970s, have been suffering from serviceability issues.

Lockheed Martin officials have previously noted that Israel could receive its first CH-53Ks 36 months after a contract is signed, while the KC-46As are scheduled to be delivered in 2024.

This story, first published on 30 December 2021, has been updated with new information.

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