A month ago, Ynet and Yediot Ahronoth revealed that in the midst of the fighting in Gaza and the north, the Israel Defense Forces asked the Pentagon to procure Apache attack helicopters to help enhance its aerial operations.
That request was met with an American refusal, but contacts have since been restarted through the political echelon, and Israeli security officials confirmed Thursday evening that at a meeting in Washington last week between senior Israeli officials and their American counterparts, the Israeli request to receive Apache combat helicopters was advanced and given priority.
This component was not in the previous plans of the IDF (2007), but the need for it became more acute during the current war, due to extreme strain on the only two helicopter flight squadrons, operating Boeing's AH-64 Apache 190 and 113, which have been operating in the skies of the Gaza Strip 24/7 since October 7. These helicopters currently are flying to the limit of their capacity, and in a scenario of fighting in the north the need for them will increase dramatically.
The security officials confirmed Thursday evening in a conversation with Ynet that, at the meeting at the Pentagon, Israel asked to receive "slots" from the U.S. for the production of Apache in stateside Boeing factories, allowing Israel to have priority in receiving new aircraft from the production line used to equip the U.S. military in the foreseeable future.
In recent weeks, there have been requests at the professional level between the militaries to receive used combat helicopters, as was revealed by Ynet last month, but these contacts were not successful and, therefore, the contacts were restarted at the government level, among other things as part of the visit of Defense Ministry Director-General Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir to Washington.
In a move that is part of the IDF's multi-year plan, and promoted last week at the Pentagon, a third squadron of the F-35I Adir aircraft is planned - and the deal is expected to be signed in the coming weeks as Ynet reported earlier Thursday. The planes are expected to arrive in the second half of the current decade. A deal for a fourth squadron, of the F-15I type, which will be the Air Force's next bombers, was also promoted at a meeting of senior defense officials at the Pentagon, and these will also be delivered after they are produced in a few years, according to plan.
Currently, one and a half F-35I Adir squadrons are already operational, with the completion of the second squadron expected over the next 18 months. Against this background comes Zamir's visit to Washington, where he held meetings with senior U.S. Department of Defense officials and key figures in the American defense industry.
Zamir discussed Israel’s ongoing armament and weapons acquisition in preparation for future military eventualities in the region and the war in Gaza. The discussions also covered the multi-year plan, which includes the acquisition of advanced platforms and capabilities to maintain the IDF’s superiority and readiness. This is part of the lessons learned from the recent war in Gaza and their application in logistical plans.
Zamir also discussed with senior American government officials the situation of the fighting in Gaza and the fighting against Hezbollah in the north, as well as "Iranian aggression that is trying to harm Israel and destabilize the Middle East." He met with officials in the Pentagon and with senior executives from major American defense industries: Greg Ulmer, Executive Vice President of Aeronautics at Lockheed Martin, and Ted Colbert, President of Boeing Defense.