Defense Ministry purchases ‘powerful’ Lockheed Martin heavy-lift helicopter, ‘essential’ for IDF

The purchase of new heavy-lift helicopters is “essential to the IDF’s ability to carry out a wide range of operational activities,” says Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

By World Israel News Staff

As part of the IDF’s “Tnufa” (Momentum), multi-year plan to adapt to the rapidly changing battlefield, the Defense Ministry has selected a new heavy-lift helicopter – the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion, produced by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Marine Corps.

In choosing the CH-53K as the new heavy-lift aircraft, Defense Minister Benny Gantz had accepted the recommendations made by IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and Defense Ministry Directo-General Amir Eshhel. The new aircraft will replace the “Yassur” helicopters employed by the Israel Air Force (IAF) since the late 1960s.

“The decision to purchase new heavy lift helicopters for the IAF, after decades, is a significant step in progressing the IDF’s force build-up. It is also essential to the IDF’s ability to carry out a wide range of operational activities,” Gantz said in a statement. “The new helicopter is adapted to the [IAF’s] operational requirements and to the challenges of the changing battlefield.”

“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 Defense Ministry stated.

“All details, including the number of helicopters requested, will be brought to the approval of the Ministerial Committee for Procurement as soon as possible.”

The choice of the CH-53K was influenced by the fact that it is a much newer, more powerful version of the same CH-53D helicopter the Israel Air Force has been using for decades, meaning it will be an easy transition for the pilots and ground crews who are already familiar with the model, the Defense Ministry explained. The changeover can therefore be done with a minimal amount of disruption and additional training to learn the nuances of the new version of the massive chopper.