Nov 4, 2014

Israeli Military Urge MoD To Stick With V-22 Deal

Top military officers are urging Israel Defense Minister not to back out of a Pentagon package of Bell Boeing V-22 tilt-rotors offered at a cut-rate price and under conditions set to expire Dec. 10.
Ya’alon approved the package nearly two months ago, with wholesale backing by the Israel Air Force training to operate the aircraft. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) General Staff and Mossad intelligence agency also are eyeing them to support special operations, including any prospective missions targeting Iran.
The package was planned for approval by a high-level ministerial committee set for last week — now rescheduled for Nov. 5 due to Ya’alon’s decision to withdraw his support.
Israeli media reported last week that Ya’alon had decided to forgo the offer, with several outlets casting the decision as driven by ongoing tension between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over a range of issues pertaining to Israel’s policy on Palestinian peace talks and West Bank settlements.
A Ya’alon adviser confirmed the defense minister’s decision to recommend passing on the V-22 deal in an upcoming meeting of a high-level ministerial committee.
He insisted that Ya’alon’s decision was driven strictly by budgetary pressures and post-Gaza war lessons assigning higher priority — and limited investment funds — to expanding Israel’s inventory of precision weaponry and armored vehicles for maneuvering ground troops.
Meticulously crafted over two years with extraordinary support from Hagel and the senior echelon of the US Navy Department, the Pentagon’s official offer was delivered last week to Israel’s defense procurement mission in New York.
It allows Israel to receive the planes now in production for the US Marine Corps for expedited delivery by the end of 2016 at a price more than $400 million less than initial estimates. In January, the Pentagon notified Congress of the potential sale, then estimated at $1.3 billion.
Israel also secured Pentagon approval to fund the deal through commercial bridge loans to be repaid with future military grant aid.
Israel would have been the first export customer of the Bell-Boeing tilt-rotor.

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