U.S. Companies to Vie for Israeli Helicopter Contracts

An IAF Sikorsky CH-53 Yasour helicopter. (Nehemia G.)
An IAF Sikorsky CH-53 Yasour helicopter. (Nehemia G.)

A multi-billion dollar deal for new helicopters for the IDF is reportedly in the offing, and the American companies Lockheed Martin and Boeing will be competing for it, according to Globes on Thursday.

The Israeli air force is planning to overhaul its fleet of transport helicopters, based on outdated Yasours, and the Ministry of Defense will likely publish a request for information (RFI) in the matter in the coming year. At stake are contracts for 20–25 helicopters, sources say.

Lockheed Martin, manufacturers of the old Yasour helicopters, is expected to fight to keep its place as the supplier with a revamped CH-53K.

Boeing will probably offer the air force its twin-engine, tandem rotor CH-47, the first models of which were produced in the early 1960s.

“Lockheed Martin’s proposal will be more expensive than the Boeing alternative of an outmoded helicopter that is still being manufactured despite its lack of new technologies. The air force will have to choose between price and capabilities: if you want more capabilities, you have to pay more. If the air force decides to settle for the Boeing helicopter, it can pay less,” Lockheed Martin Israel CEO Brigadier General (res.) Joshua Shani told Globes.

“Our proposal will be more expensive than Boeing’s, but the air force knows and likes the Yasour. There is no doubt that there will be a struggle between the two offers on the table. The Ministry of Defense will send air force pilots to try out the two helicopters and get their impressions. In any case, no decision will be taken on the matter before 2018.”

However, another informed source noted that the Boeing product, despite having been developed originally 60 years ago, continues to have an excellent performance record in combat, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Besides the U.S. army, it has found a place in armies in Europe and other countries, thanks to a number of improvements and advanced aeronautical systems installed in it.

“It is capable of bearing very heavy loads, moving large forces, and is easy and safe to operate,” the source said.