The Israel Defense Forces will have to decide shortly whether to buy the old “Delta” Apaches that were decommissioned in the United States and modernize them or buy new Apache helicopters of the “Echo” model.
By 2025, the IDF plans to phase out 24 “Patan” Apache helicopters, following the example of other militaries around the world. New purchases from the United States will replace these helicopters.
According to IDF sources, the Air Force will soon have to decide according to the new state budget and decide between several options. As an alternative, the IDF will be able to buy the old Apache “Delta” that fell out of service in the US and modernize them or buy new Apache helicopters of the “Echo” model.
Another option would be to wait and buy Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) helicopters, which are still in production and won’t be available until early in the next decade.
IDF has decisions to make as the Ukraine war opens up possibilities
According to estimates, the Ukraine war opens a special window of opportunity for Israel: the US could provide F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, but it will not give them new helicopter gunships that could fall into Russian hands and thus put in danger secret technologies.
Thus, the opportunity for trade could arise, in which the old “Patan” Apaches of the Israel Air Force could be transferred to Ukraine, while Israel would receive “Echo” Apaches in return.
Air Force sources affirm that the correct thing would be not to wait for the production of the “FARA” helicopters but to buy a fleet of 20 “Echo” Apaches soon.
These helicopters have operational capabilities far superior to those of the helicopters that the Air Force now has. They are faster and more powerful, and their radar allows them to operate at greater and more precise distances.
They can also carry 16 missiles and 76 rockets, and their nose has an upgraded cannon. According to foreign reports, Poland, Morocco and Australia are also interested in acquiring the Apache “Echo,” and Germany has even begun its purchase.
Combat helicopters play an important role in the IDF.
“There are no longer any spare parts for the ‘Patan’ helicopters, so they need to be withdrawn from service,” a senior IDF official stated, adding: “We have limited resources, but combat helicopters are still relevant in the battlefield, especially in assisting ground forces, special operations, and even for actual military activity.”
A senior IDF reserves officer specializing in helicopter gunships and procurement processes stated: “We have seen the involvement of helicopter gunships in recent operations in the Gaza Strip.”
“There are tasks that remotely manned aircraft cannot perform without being seen or heard, such as flying low and launching missiles far from the target.
Having a rational person on the front lines is an important advantage because the battlefield changes often, and you have to make quick decisions.”
Earlier this year, the Air Force began procedures for the purchase and maintenance of combat and transport planes before parting with old fighters and helicopters.
In early May, the Ministry of Defense and the Air Force submitted to the US Department of Defense a request for information on new F-15 aircraft as part of a future procurement process for a new F-I15 squadron.
The Air Force intends to integrate improvements related to weaponry, radar and electronic warfare systems into the plane, extend the range of action and more – using systems made in Israel to upgrade the plane and give it superiority over other aircraft of this model.
The Jerusalem Post