American defence secretary Chuck Hagel said on Thursday that Israel would be the first US ally to receive the American V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor military aircraft.
The deal was negotiated between Hagel and Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon during the former’s last visit to Israel. According to Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, the estimated cost of one V-22 Osprey is $69 million.
A senior Pentagon official told NBC that the Pentagon agreed to reallocate the next group of aircraft to come off the production line, though it had been previously assigned to the Marines, to meet the order.
He justified that Israel should get the efficient military aircraft as soon as possible because it faces threats from Iran, Syria and the Sinai Peninsula.
Whilst speaking to the anti-defamation league in New York, Hagel said that delivery would be “expedited.” NBC said that he meant: “Israel will get six V-22s out of the next order to go on the assembly line, and they will be compatible with other [Israeli defence] capabilities.”
NBC said that the announcement comes less than a year after pro-Israeli activist groups in the US expressed deep reservations about Hagel’s nomination for defence secretary.
Pro-Israeli lobbies said that in 2008 Hagel criticised the “Jewish lobby” for “intimidating” US officials.