A step has been taken toward implementation of a large acquisition program that is predicted to change the face of the IAF and drive it forward with refueling planes, transport helicopters and fighter planes. After several years of waiting, the government's security cabinet approved a financial plan for the acquisitions totaling about $9 billion, with most of the funds from US defense aid and the rest from loans. There is opposition in the Justice Ministry to some of the loans in the plan.
Following approval of the financial plan, the defense establishment is supposed to present the details of the acquisition plan to the ministerial committee for procurement. The first and most urgent issue will be the deal for acquisition of four Boeing KC-46 refueling planes to replace the aging and outdated "Ram" refueling planes. The second most urgent issue will be the transport helicopters that will replace the "Yasour" helicopters.
The two helicopters under consideration are Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky's K helicopter and Boeing's Chinook. It became known to Israel Defense that the commander of the IAF and his teams considering the helicopters already know which of the two types is preferable for the IAF. As of now, the matter remains classified. The acquisition deal that was approved also includes "at least" one additional squadron. In the Defense Ministry, the IAF and in the command of the special forces, there are those who support the acquisition of a number of Boeing V-22 Osprey hybrid helicopter-airplanes as well. The deal also includes special munitions for the IAF as well as intelligence and computer equipment.
The aircraft manufacturers have reemphasized that the continuing delay of the decision-making processes in Israel is holding up the delivery, and even if the acquisition deals are approved today and detailed requests are submitted to the US, it will be years before the IAF receives the aircraft.