The State Department has approved an arms sale to Israel for 18 CH-53K heavy-lift cargo helicopters worth an estimated $3.4 billion. The deal also includes equipment for the helicopters such as engines, GPS systems, communication equipment, and .50 caliber machine guns.
The primary contractors for the deal are Lockheed Martin and General Electric. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said the sale will “improve the Israeli Air Force’s capability to transport armored vehicles, personnel, and equipment to support distributed operations.”
This arms sale is the first for Israel since the Bidena administration approved a $735 million deal for precision-guided missile equipment that stirred some controversy because it was pushed through during Israel’s latest bombing campaign in Gaza. Israel’s bombardment in May killed over 250 Palestinians, including over 60 children.
While there was some scrutiny in Congress of the timing of the $735 million deal, there was no real effort to block it. The State Department’s approval of the helicopter sale starts the congressional review period, but there’s little chance any US lawmakers would try to stop the sale.
Of the $3.8 billion that the US gives to Israel in military aid each year, $3.3 billion is under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. FMF funds are given to countries to use to buy military equipment and services from US companies and are essentially subsidies for the arms industry.