In the wake of the many-months long rising tide of hostility between U.S. and Israeli senior leadership reaching those at the highest levels, a decision which at other times might be understood as a simple budgetary decision is likely now to be seen as anything but.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has reportedly canceled an agreement for Israel to purchase from the United States six advanced V-22 aircraft, which is made by Bell Boeing.
In January it was announced by the U.S. that the Israel Defense Force wanted to buy six Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft for special operations and search-and-rescue missions, in addition to various other, smaller items. The V-22 flies like an airplane but tilts its rotors to take off and land like a helicopter.
The deal in which the six V-22 aircraft was a part was anticipated to be a roughly $1.13 billion Foreign Military Sale to Israel.
But Israel Hayom reported that the Ministry of Finance wants the deal to be suspended until there is a full review of Israel’s security needs post-Operation Protective Edge.
For his part, Ya’alon decided that instead of purchasing the six aircraft, Israel should increase the procurement of heavy Armored Personnel Carriers and precision munitions.
The poor condition of Israel’s APCs was a serious danger to its troops during this summer’s conflict. That fact was made clear by the highly publicized and tragic loss of life on July 20, when an APC carrying Golani brigade fighters in Gaza stalled and was then pierced on July 20 by Hamas terrorists. That attack led to the loss of seven soldiers. St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul, amongst others, died in that tragedy; Shaul’s body has still not been recovered.
Last week when Ya’alon was in Washington, D.C. he and one of the few administration officials who did meet with him, the American Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, agreed that Israel would buy a second squadron of advanced F-35 fighter jets.
Canada and the United Arab Emirates were the other two potential purchasers of the V-22s, when Israel was considering the purchase.
Despite Israel’s severe budgetary constraints and the serious deficit of adequate APCs which was made only too clear during the summer conflict, Israel HaYom suggested that there are those within the IDF who fear the announced withdrawal of Israel’s intent to purchase the six Ospreys from the U.S. at this very delicate moment in U.S.-Israel relations will not be well received.