U.S. Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, announced Thursday that the Department of Defense has decided to provide Israel with six advanced V-22 Osprey aircraft. The move, he said, will “greatly enhance the range and effectiveness of Israeli special forces.”
“I directed the Marine Corps to make sure that this order is expedited,” Hagel added, speaking at the Anti-Defamation League’s centennial gala. “That means Israel will get six V-22s out of the next order to go on the assembly line.”
The delivery would make Israel the first foreign country to posses the tilt rotor planes, which are able to take off vertically.
The first planes are likely to be delivered in two years, according to the Los Angeles Times, and “they will be compatible with IDF capabilities” Hagel said.
In his speech, introducing his predecessor Leon Panetta, the evening’s honoree, Hagel touted as “unprecedented” the cooperation between the U.S. and the Jewish state, and acknowledged the regional challenges that Israel faces. “Israel’s self defense capabilities and its qualitative military edge are essential to both Israel and U.S. security,” he said.
The Osprey was first used in the field in 2007 and has been used by the U.S. military in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.