AT A meeting of the Israel Defence Force’s General Staff on June 21, a revised five-year defence plan — Kela 2008 (Catapult 2008) — was discussed, which again raised the controversial subject of whether or not to purchase additional AH-64D attack helicopters (see Israeli AH-64 Controversy, February, pi5, and the major feature in the August issue, p30).
Proposals to exercise the six outstanding options for AH-64Ds were discussed and Air Force Commander Major General Eliezer Shkedi stated that he believes that the current 12 AH-64Ds on order are not enough and a further 12 should be acquired. However, under the new plan approval was only granted for the six already optioned. Some members of the General Staff expressed considerable opposition to the additional AH-64Ds, disputing the need for more attack helicopters.
Under Kela 2008, funding was also approved for the upgrade of more of the IDF/AF’s Boeing 707 tanker and electronic intelligence aircraft and its 23 C-130E/H Hercules transports. The IDF/AF has for some time been examining the possibility of buying C-130Js to replace its existing Hercules fleet, but has decided instead to opt for an extensive airframe and avionics upgrade of the C-130E/Hs, which is expected to cost approximately $16 million per aircraft. Funds will also be provided for more unmanned air vehicles under the new plan, which still requires approval from the Israeli Defence Minister before it can go ahead.