Pentagon Publishes Details of Osprey Aircraft Deal

Six aircraft, including advanced avionics systems, support and training to cost Israel $1.3 billion, U.S. defense agency says.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

Israel’s purchase of six V-22B Osprey aircraft from the United States will cost $1.3 billion, according to figures published Tuesday by a U.S. government agency.

According to the data released by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the deal that includes the Bell Boeing V-22Bs also has several other components that help explain the high price tag: Israel will also purchase 16 Rolls Royce engines, six radar warning receiver systems, six missile warning systems, six tactical airborne navigation systems, 36 night vision goggles and much more, along with a complete training and technical support package for the aircraft. The V-22B Block C Osprey Tilt-Rotor Aircraft combines elements of both an airplane and a helicopter, and will be used mainly for special-forces missions far from home.

“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability,” the agency said in its letter informing Congress of the impending sale. “This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives.”

The sale, it continued, “will enhance and increase the Israel Defense Forces’ search and rescue and special operations capabilities.” Since the Osprey has vertical takeoff and landing capabilities, and can also hover like a helicopter, it enables equipment and soldiers to be delivered to places that are considered less accessible to the Israel Air Force’s existing aircraft.

Israel “will have no difficulty absorbing this technology into its current aircraft inventory,” the letter added.

Based on unofficial data, each V-22 costs almost $70 million. It has a flight range of about 1,600 kilometers and is capable of carrying 24 soldiers at a maximum speed of 400 kilometers per hour.

The DSCA’s letter to Congress constitutes another step toward implementing the arms deal announced by U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel when he visited Israel last April. Reports at that time said the deal would also include midair refuelers, but those don’t appear on the long list of items in the DSCA’s letter.

Hagel said at the time that this arms deal – America’s first sale of V-22s to another country – would send a “very clear signal” to Iran.

In a report on the DSCA letter on Thursday, the journal Defense News noted that the letter was sent to Congress just as news was breaking that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, in a conversation with an Israeli journalist, had called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “obsessive” and “messianic.” More than 12 hours after that story broke, Ya’alon published a statement saying he “had no intention to cause any offense to the secretary, and he apologizes if the secretary was offended by words attributed to the minister.”

IAF tests out America's new V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.Credit: United States Department of Defense

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