Hagel announces sale of V-22s to Israel

Posted Monday, Apr. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The U.S. plans to provide Israel with advanced weapons, including the first export of Bell Helicopter's tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey, as part of an "iron-clad pledge" to ensure its edge against enemies such as Syria and Iran, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.

"We're committed to providing Israel with whatever support is necessary for Israel to maintain military superiority over any state or coalition of states and non-state actors," Hagel said Monday after meeting today with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon in Tel Aviv.

Hagel expressed the Obama administration's commitment to making sure Iran doesn't acquire the capability to build a nuclear weapon. He said the U.S. is coordinating its response to Iran with Israel and said economic sanctions against the oil-rich nation are "potent, wide and deep."

The weapons package that Hagel and Ya'alon discussed includes refueling aircraft, anti-radiation missiles and advanced radar for jet fighters. The Osprey, which takes off and lands like a helicopter, will improve Israel's ability to conduct commando and rescue operations.

The weapons will "ensure Israel's air superiority in the future and allow the Israeli Air Force long-range capabilities," Hagel said, and Israel is getting equipment "that we have not given to any other country."

The Osprey, made by Fort Worth-based Bell and Boeing, is assembled in Amarillo with many components manufactured in the Fort Worth area. The companies have delivered approximately 230 V-22s to the U.S. military, including the Marines and Air Force, Bell spokesman Bill Schroeder said.

"The Bell Boeing team was pleased to learn that Israel views the V-22 Osprey as a critical part of their future force structure and will become our first international customer,'' Schroeder said. "Additional questions should be addressed to the U.S. Dept. of Defense."

The U.S. provides Israel with weapons under the foreign military financing program.

Hagel said the Obama administration "has ensured that Israel receives an all-time high of $3.1 billion" this year under that program "despite fiscal pressures."

Staff writer Yamil Berard contributed to this report.

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