Substandard IDF equipment endangers soldiers’ lives
There is something very rotten going on within the project management services of the Ministry of Defense and the Tsahal, particularly with regard to the acquisition of foreign equipment.
This is the case with the Dolphin 2 class submarines, the Sa’ar 6 class corvettes, the new Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion helicopters, the aerial refueling aircraft, and now, with the purchase of several new maritime helicopters – which has been dragging on for nearly six years with no end in sight.
While the panoply of graphs, tables and documents from the Direction de l’urbanisme can show that everything is organized down to the smallest screw, the reality tells a completely different story.
No doubt some of these purchases will one day end up under the scrutiny of a commission of inquiry, while others – worth hundreds of millions of dollars – will get lost in the accounting books of the Department of Defense never to be seen. the day.
One of those hidden secrets is how far the new Marine Helicopter contract deviated from the original budget allocated for the purchase. Apparently it’s in the tens and possibly hundreds of millions of dollars, but the Department of Defense remains silent. Maybe out of shame.
This year was to see the launch of the new Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawks, intended to replace the now obsolete Eurocopter AS565 Panthers.
According to the ministry, the new helicopters are expected to arrive in 2024, with a launch date of 2025, but as things stand, those dates appear to be only a suggestion.
The processing of the new naval helicopter has actually started on the right foot. The Air Force caught up soon enough with aging Eurocopters over the previous decade and an alternative was agreed upon – used Sea Hawk helicopters that had been decommissioned in the US Navy.
Defense Ministry procurement experts even claimed at the time that it was a problematic choice, since these were used helicopters that were no longer being manufactured, their last model having rolled off the production line in 1996, with the last model approaching 30 years of age.
Moreover, Spain had made a similar deal with the Americans a few years earlier, which backfired.
And in general, what is important in a naval helicopter is not the platform but the systems that are there. Moreover, the IDF already uses Black Hawk helicopters, which should facilitate maintenance. But as always, it’s what the Air Force wants that counts in the end.
In 2016, the agreement is signed: eight used Seahawk helicopters are purchased, three of which are predestined for dismantling to serve as parts, and five will form the operational squadron. It took a little longer and an agreement was signed with SBS in Alabama to improve the five helicopters.
In a first phase, a renovation will be carried out to bring the helicopter up to modern standards (reinforcement of the structure, renewal of mechanical parts, engine, gearbox, etc.) and in the second phase, unique Israeli systems such as an electronic suit, new avionics and possibly weaponry capabilities will be introduced.
But then they discovered that the condition of the helicopters was much worse than they originally thought. The renovation took longer, more money was spent, and now we reach 2022 with only two of the helicopters upgraded enough to fly. The others are still stuck in stores.
Moreover, there is no money left for the second phase to install Israeli-made systems. Negotiations are currently underway with the American company on price increases to complete the work. But these are just negotiations – with no deal in sight. Some work will have to be done in Israel, tenders will have to be launched and that also takes time, which makes the target date of 2025 even more unrealistic.