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Israel selects CH-53K as replacement heavy lift helicopter

Israel announced its long-awaited decision on the acquisition of next-generation heavy-lift helicopter on 25 February after it announced it has opted for the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion.

A CGI of a CH-53K with Israeli markings. (Lockheed Martin)

A CGI of a CH-53K with Israeli markings. (Lockheed Martin)

The Israeli Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in a statement that defense minister Benny Gantz accepted the recommendation presented by Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Aviv Kohavi and Defense Ministry director general Major General (res) Amir Eshel to select the CH-53K.

Israel was also considering Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook as a possible replacement for the CH-53 Yasur helicopters the Israeli Air Force (IAF) has operated since the late 1960s.

“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, technological, maintenance, and other considerations,” the MoD said. “All details, including the number of helicopters requested, will be brought to the approval of the Ministerial Committee for Procurement as soon as possible.”

Gantz described the decision as a significant step in Israel’s Momentum multiyear plan. “The new helicopter is adapted to the [IAF’s] operational requirements and to the challenges of the changing battlefield,” he said.

The Israeli cabinet approved a USD9 billion package for future acquisitions on 7 February, paving the way for long-awaited contracts to replace ageing platforms. The funding also covers a third squadron of F-35I fighters and a KC-46 aerial refuelling aircraft.

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