In the final days of 2021, the Israeli Ministry of Defense formally signed an agreement with the U.S. government for the purchase of 12 CH-53K helicopters, built by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company. Israel’s Brigadier General Michel Ben Baruch signed the document at the IMOD’s mission in New York City.
With this deal, the Israeli Air Force becomes the first international customer to procure the brand-new heavy-lifters. The CH-53K King Stallions will support the IAF’s needs for at least 50 years, replacing the current fleet of “Yasur” helicopters.
“We are excited and proud to welcome the Israeli Defense Forces to the CH-53K family,” said Sikorsky president Paul Lemmo. “The CH-53K helicopter provides heavy-lift capabilities that will help strengthen Israel’s national security for decades to come.”
“The signing of this agreement is a testament to the strong partnership between Lockheed Martin and our Israeli customer,” said Joshua Shani, Lockheed Martin’s chief executive in Israel. “Through this partnership and this deal, together we will deliver an unmatched military edge in the region. I’m truly proud that Israel will be the first international customer of the CH-53K and look forward to seeing the IAF markings on the first helicopter a few years from now”.
The agreement includes an option for the IAF to procure an additional six aircraft. The first helicopters are expected to be available in 2026.
(Photo Credit: Israeli Ministry of Defense)
The procurement of the CH-53Ks is part of the Israeli Defense Force’s large-scale plan to strengthen its forces in the face of existing and future threats. The plan also includes the purchase of a new fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets.
The CH-53K program is currently in the midst of Initial Operational Test and Evaluation.