By ARIE EGOZI
Tel Aviv. The fierce competition between Boeing and Lockheed Martin on who will supply the replacement for the Israeli air force’s (IAF) old CH-53 is getting to its last phase.
It is expected that a special government committee will convene soon to make the final selection.
“All the relevant data will be put before the committee members with recommendations of the air force commander and the IDF’s chief of staff,” a highly placed source told Raksha Anirveda.
The two contenders are the Lockheed Marin / Sikorsky CH-53K and the Boeing CH-47.
The IDF wants a quick decision on the new heavy helicopter to replace the old CH-53.
The pressure comes especially from what is generally called the IDF’s “Depth Command” or in other words, the special units that perform operations far away from Israel.
According to Lockheed Martin, the CH-53K is a smart aircraft with sensors built in. “Following our commercial helicopter sustainment model, the aircraft can analyze itself. This also allows for 100 per cent fault detection and 98 per cent fault isolation, meaning the aircraft can tell you when problems arise 100 per cent of the time and where the problems are 98 per cent of the time. This is all predictive with artificial intelligence. The aircraft continues to learn, driving maintenance costs down,” a senior Lockheed Martin official said.
According to Israeli military sources, the CH-47 version offered to the IAF will be a hybrid between Chinook F and Chinook G but with larger fuel tanks, similar to the model currently flying in Canada.
The Chinook cockpit is expected to be fully computerised and will feature unique systems for the G-type.
The Boeing MH-47G is a special operations variant of the CH-47 Chinook multi-role, heavy-lift helicopter. It is in service with the US Army Special Operations Aviation Command (USASOC). The first new-build MH-47G helicopter was delivered to the USASOC in September 2014.
The MH-47G is used in heavy-lift missions such as the transportation of troops, ammunition, vehicles, equipment, fuel and supplies, as well as civil and humanitarian relief missions. The helicopter can conduct long-range missions at low level, in adverse weather conditions during the day / night.
The IAF is expected to purchase at least 25 new heavy lift helicopters.
-The writer is an Israel-based freelance journalist