The US plans to sell six tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft to Israel, the Pentagon formally notified Congress on Tuesday.
Israel will become the first country allowed to purchase the aircraft, which can take off like a helicopter and fly like a regular airplane, as part of a long-term deal reportedly worth $1.13 billion (NIS 3.94 billion).
Plans to sell the V-22 Osprey to Israel were first announced late last year, but the details of the proposed arms package were given to lawmakers only on Tuesday. Congress will have 15 days to raise any objections to the sale, reported AFP.
The package sale will include radar, missile warning systems, radios, night vision goggles, navigation systems and other equipment for the Ospreys, according to the report which cited the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
“The proposed sale of V-22B aircraft will enhance and increase the Israel Defense Forces’ search and rescue and special operations capabilities,” a statement from the agency read. “The V-22B provides the capability to move personnel and equipment to areas not accessible by fixed wing lift assets.”
The announcement of the intended sale comes at a time when Israel-US relations have grown increasingly tense.
On Tuesday, an Israeli newspaper report printed comments attributed to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, which blasted the US secretary of state and his efforts in pursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
Ya’alon had lashed out at John Kerry and savaged Washington-led peace talks in private conversations, according to the report in Yedioth Ahronoth. The paper recounted the defense minister lambasting the proposed security arrangements drawn up by Kerry as part of his peace proposal, saying the security proposal was “not worth the paper it is printed on” and would not provide security for Israel.
The report also quoted Ya’alon calling Kerry “inexplicably obsessive” and “messianic” in his efforts to coax the two sides into a peace agreement. The defense minister reportedly said Kerry has “nothing to teach me about the conflict with the Palestinians. All that can ‘save us’ is for John Kerry to win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace.”
The comments drew a rare and harsh rebuke from both the US State Department and the Obama administration, eventually leading the defense minister to apologize following what was described as a prolonged pep talk from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Gavriel Fiske contributed to this report.