The Hill / July 30, 2021
The State Department has approved selling Israel up to 18 CH-53K heavy-lift cargo helicopters in a deal estimated to be worth $3.4 billion, according to a notice released Friday.
“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives,” the notice from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said.
In addition to the Lockheed Martin-made helicopters, the deal would include related equipment including up to 60 General Electric-made engines, up to 36 navigation systems, communication equipment, .50 caliber machine guns and more, as well as technical and logistical support.
The sale would help the Israeli Air Force’s “capability to transport armored vehicles, personnel and equipment to support distributed operations,” the notice said.
“Israel will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense,” it added.
The notice kicks off a congressional review period in which lawmakers could vote to block the sale if they wanted.
Arms sales to Israel in the past have not been controversial, but have recently become a flashpoint.
In particular, a $735 million precision-guided weapons sale to Israel caused a firestorm on Capitol Hill earlier this year after the details of the sale became public amid of a two-week military conflict between Israel and Hamas in which more than 200 Palestinians were killed.
Progressive Democrats in the House and Senate introduced resolutions to block the sale, but the congressional review period had already lapsed, dooming those efforts from the start.