U.S. to speed up delivery of Osprey choppers to Israel

NEW YORK (JTA) — The United States will fast-track delivery of six advanced helicopter-airplanes to Israel.

“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 defense] capabilities,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the Anti-Defamation League’s centennial conference in New York.

NBC News reported that the Pentagon agreed to send Israel the next batch of V-22 Ospreys after Israel requested this week that the delivery of the aircraft be expedited amid threats from Iran and Syria.

Israel is slated to become the first foreign country to receive the V-22 Osprey from the United States, where it is built by Bell Helicopter and Boeing Rotorcraft Systems.

According to the NBC report, Israel may need to wait only two more years before receiving the Ospreys, which can carry 24 combat troops. The aircraft can take off vertically like a helicopter but fly like a plane at a speeds of up to 300 knots — almost double that of a normal helicopter.

The next group of Ospreys had originally been slated for assignation to the U.S. Marines, a Pentagon official told NBC.

The deal is part of a wider $10 billion package involving U.S. sales to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, designed to provide Washington’s allies in the region with enhanced military capabilities against Iran.

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