Israel Air Force Pilots Head to U.S. to Test-fly New Military Aircraft

Israeli pilots visit Marine Corp base in North Carolina; IAF will have to replace outdated aircraft models toward the end of the decade.

An Israel Air Force delegation recently visited a United States Marine Corps base in North Carolina in order to test out the new V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.

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V-22 Osprey tiltrotor
United States Department of Defense

According to the Marine Corp news site, two IAF lieutenant colonels first visited the New River base in May, followed by another trip in June along with five more Israeli pilots. The pilots first used the V-22 Osprey simulator before boarding the aircrafts for several practice flights which included tactical landings, flights in formation, night flights, and aerial refueling.

Although Israeli pilots have previously tested out the V-22, this was the first time they truly studied the in-depth capabilities of the revolutionary tiltrotor, which gives the aircraft the vertical lift capability of a helicopter, combined with the speed and range of a conventional aircraft.

Despite the IAF's positive impression of the tiltrotor, it is not considering acquiring the V-22, which the Marines mainly use for special missions, and will continue using the UH 60 Black Hawk and the Sikorsky CH 53 helicopters, respectively.

However, the IAF will have to replace the Sikorsky helicopters sometime toward the end ofthe decade, and will have to decide between upgrading the Sikorsky or choosing the V-22.

The pricey development of the V-22 has stirred up controversy in the United States, where more than 30 pilots and combatants have died in crashes since the aircraft became operational.