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Israel to get highly advanced Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft: Hagel

The MV-22 Osprey. A Boeing photo

WASHINGTON (PTI): The US has announced to provide Israel six highly advanced tilt rotor V-22 Ospreys, making it the first American ally to receive such an aircraft.

"I am pleased to announce that we are working with the Israeli government to provide them with six new V-22s. I have directed the Marine Corps to make sure this order is expedited," US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said in his address to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in New York.

The announcement follows after the US and Israel reached an agreement early this year to open up even more advanced military capabilities to Israel.

"One of these capabilities is the V-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft that will greatly enhance the range and effectiveness of Israeli Special Forces," Hagel said.

"That means Israel will get six V-22s out of the next order to go on the assembly line, and they will be compatible with other IDF capabilities. The Israeli and American defence relationship is stronger than ever, and it will continue to strengthen," Hagel said.

The first aircraft designed from the ground up to meet the needs of all four US armed services, the V-22 tilt rotor aircraft takes off and lands like a helicopter.

Once airborne, its engine nacelles can be rotated to convert the aircraft to a turboprop airplane capable of high-speed, high-altitude flight.

Hagel said Israel's self-defence capabilities and its qualitative military edge are central to both Israel and US security interests.

The United States has provided important support for Israel's Iron Dome system, which has proven very successful in protecting Israeli citizens, he said.

The Defence Secretary said the US is presently testing Iranian intentions for a diplomatic solution.

"As we engage Iran with our partners, we are very clear- eyed about reality in the Middle East. Iran is a state sponsor of terror, responsible for spreading hatred and extremism throughout the region," he said.

"But foreign policy is not a zero-sum game. If we can find ways to resolve disputes peacefully, we are wise to explore them," he said.

"Engagement is not appeasement, nor is it containment. We know what those are, we know where they lead, and we will not pursue them. And President Obama has repeatedly made clear that words are not enough. Action must match words," he said.


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