The Israeli Ministry of Defense confirmed on December 30, 2021, that Tel Aviv will buy 12 Lockheed Martin CH-53K helicopters for about $2 billion and two more Boeing KC-46 refueling aircraft, to add to the two already purchased, for about $1.1 billion.
“The procurement agreements are another significant milestone in the IDF’s force building. We continue to strengthen, change and adapt the Air Force to the challenges of the future, near and especially far from Israel’s borders”, said Defense Minister Bnei Gantz.
Joshua (Shiki) Shani, CEO of Lockheed Martin Israel, said of the deal: “Lockheed Martin is committed and proud to continue to support the Air Force as part of its long-standing partnership with the State of Israel. The CH-53K will enable the Air Force to continue to fulfill its tasks as the safest, most reliable and efficient heavy transport helicopter and will help strengthen the national security of the State of Israel in the coming decades. “
The scope of the deal is estimated at about $ 2 billion from US aid funds. The agreement, with the US Navy (NAVY), through which the helicopters will be purchased, was signed by the head of the procurement delegation, Brigadier General (Res.) Michel Ben Baruch. The deal includes an option to purchase six more helicopters. The first helicopters are expected to arrive in Israel in 2026.
The head of the Ministry of Defense’s procurement delegation also signed an agreement to purchase two more Boeing KC-46 refueling aircraft.
The amount of the deal from US aid funds is estimated at $ 1.1 billion.
The refueling aircraft, which will be added to two refuelers that have already been purchased (four aircraft in total), will be adapted to the Israeli configuration and the operational requirements of the Air Force. In addition, Israeli systems will also be integrated into the aircraft.
The U.S. State Department approved the possible sale of up to eight KC-46 tanker aircraft and related equipment to Israel on March 2021.
The acquisition of the platforms is part of a large-scale move, promoted by the Ministry of Defense together with the IDF over the past year and a half, to strengthen the IDF’s capabilities and build strength in the face of existing and future threats, including in the third circle.