Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said on Sunday that they intend to reconsider procuring the V-22 Osprey aircraft from U.S. manufacturer Boeing.

Israel had decided several months ago not to purchase the aircraft due to budgetary restrictions.

The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is a tiltrotor aircraft with both vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities. Gantz, who during his tenure as IDF chief saw the United States and Israel reach an Osprey procurement deal, is an adamant supporter of purchasing the advanced aircraft.

In a meeting two weeks ago, Israel Hayom has learned, Gantz and Kochavi agreed to revisit the decision to scrap the Osprey deal. If Gantz’s position is indeed adopted, the Osprey would be part of a broader initiative to replace the IDF’s aging fleet of Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters, which were first incorporated in the 1960s and 1970s.

Despite the air force’s efforts over the decades to preserve the quality of its CH-53 fleet, in 2019 the State Comptroller said in a report that keeping the aircraft operational beyond 2025 would put lives at risk.

That contest to replace the aging CH-53s is between the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion, which is manufactured by Lockheed Martin, and the Boeing CH-47F Chinook. While the IDF hasn’t yet declared its preference, according to Israel Hayom the country’s defense establishment prefers the CH-53K due to its better performance.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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