Pentagon Swipes V-22 Ospreys From U.S. Marines, Sells Them to Israel Instead


Source: Wikimedia Commons.

In what has easily the biggest development in defense news this week, Congress just received notice that the United States is exporting cutting-edge tiltrotor technology to Israel.

More amazingly -- the six V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft that Israel will be buying were originally supposed to go to the U.S. Marines, currently fighting a shooting war in Afghanistan.

Does this make sense? Taking valuable military equipment from our own soldiers, and giving it away (as a general rule, Israel gets its arms paid for out of U.S. annual military aid) to Israel instead?

The situation
Hemmed in by Hamas to the west, Fatah to the east, and Hezbollah (and a rapidly disintegrating Syria) to the north, Israel certainly lives in a dangerous neighborhood. Time after time, Israeli special forces are called upon to take pre-emptive action to defuse looming threats -- and they can't often fly into a friendly airport to do it.

So when Israel learned that U.S. defense contractors Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) and Textron (NYSE: TXT  ) had developed a new kind of "aircraft," one that can take off and land like a helicopter, and carry nearly as many special-forces troops into combat as a fully loaded Chinook -- but fly higher and nearly twice as fast as that whirlybird -- Israel's interest was quite naturally piqued.

How many soldiers can you load onto a V-22 Osprey? More than this many. Source: Boeing.

There was just one problem: So far, the U.S. has kept its tiltrotor technology entirely to itself. To date, America hasn't sold one single Osprey to any of its allies, anywhere, ever. Until now.

The sale
Pressed by Israel to make an exception in its case, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel agreed in October to "expedite" approval of Israel as the first foreign buyer of V-22 Ospreys. In the interests of enhancing "the range and effectiveness of Israeli special forces," Hagel made a promise: Of the 21 V-22s that Boeing and Textron will build this year, "Israel will get six V-22s out of the next order to go on the assembly line."

This week, we took the first step toward fulfilling that promise, when the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency officially notified Congress of plans to sell the Ospreys to Israel. Congress has 15 days to pass a joint resolution banning the sale. Failing that, it will proceed.

(When does the clock start ticking? Technically, it started Monday. But practically, it doesn't matter when the notification took place -- because Congress has never vetoed a foreign military sale after receiving DSCA notification. Ever.)

So the sale is going to happen. But should it?
There are certainly arguments against stripping U.S. troops of essential combat gear, and sending it ... elsewhere. But in this instance, I think Hagel made the right choice. After all, the focus of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan today is much more heavily weighted toward getting equipment out of the country, rather than moving new hardware in. Chances are, by the time these Ospreys are built, there won't be any troops left in Afghanistan to deliver them to.

So no, I don't think that this sale will put U.S. troops at risk. To the contrary, by granting Israel this favor, Hagel may cement a relationship that has the potential to save American lives.

A special relationship
Usually, when folks talk say the U.S. has a "special relationship" with a foreign country, they're talking about Britain. But America's relations with Israel are pretty special, too. To cite just one example, Israel recently granted Washington crucial access to data on its Iron Dome air defense system and took on Raytheon (NYSE: RTN  ) as a partner in building and marketing Iron Dome -- said to be at least twice as effective as the Patriot air-defense system currently manufactured by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT  ) . Israel's also cooperating with Raytheon in developing the even more robust "David's Sling" medium-range missile defense system, and with Boeing in development of the long-range "Arrow" system.

In short, yes, there's some risk in diverting Osprey intended for the USMC to Israel instead. But the kind of cooperation we are getting in return on Iron Dome, David's Sling, and Arrow are worth it. This is a special relationship worth preserving, even at the price of a few favors.


Iron Dome in action, intercepting Hamas rockets in 2012. Source: Wikimedia Commons

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Read/Post Comments (27) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 11:44 AM, Obamasaliar wrote:

    Good... Obama's been arming the Islamic nations around Israel... against American law... this just helps to even the playing field. The field being America against Obama-nation.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:12 PM, dawood wrote:

    They will do anything to please their bosses at the terrorist anti-American thugs at AIPAC. The Obamasaliar idiot above does not even know what he is talking about. Muslim nations legally get the American weapons and pay for it while this Terrorist occupiers of the Palestinian land does not pay for it. We, the American taxpayer foot the bill for the terrorist occupiers of the Palestinian land.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:23 PM, Howdie wrote:

    Let Israel pay us through the nose for them and then let them fight the Islamists instead of our marines.

    We save our lives and laugh all the way to the bank. That would be nice for a change.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:23 PM, TheAncient wrote:

    Congress is using this to convince Britain to buy Ospreys. Besides, Congress and the Pentagon do want to phase out the Marines altogether. SecNav has stated that there no longer is a need for Marines abroad ANY Navy vessel. The Pentagon said the Marines played no real nor important role in Afghanistan that SpecOps couldn't or didn't do. Nevermind, it was the Afghan Area Commander who decides/decided what troops would be used and where. But using that logic there is no real need for carriers anymore considering all our aircraft can refuel in flight. No need for the floating targets aka the Littoral ships when a flight of ground support aircraft or a couple of BUFs could do the same job. All the Navy is needed for is hauling huge quantities of men and material to a war zone.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:08 PM, MPA2000 wrote:

    They were a waste of money. One of the most dangerous and clumsy pieces of equipment we ever produced.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:13 PM, TheAncient wrote:

    This sale to Israel is just to peak the Brits interest in the Osprey. If the Brits had a real and serious interest then none of the Ospreys would be going to Israel nor the Marines but to Britain. Reason? The Joint Chiefs, Pentagon and Congress are of the opinion that there is no longer any need to have the Marines at all. The Marines have no role on Navy ships so says SecNav.

    Considering every US military aircraft is capable of mid air refueling there is no real need for carriers and the Navy could be relegated to mass quantity delivery of men and materials to a combat zone.

    We have Space Command, Transportation Command there is no logical reason to have the Air Force, its fighting equipment could easily go to the Army which is whom the Air Force supports thus eliminating an air gap in communications.

    All this would save tons of tax dollars, be more efficient and effective expect for the 3 words that prevent it from happening. Military industrial complex.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:19 PM, TheAncient wrote:

    MPA2000 - 95% or more of the hardware the military possesses is of little use in today's warscape. Almost all of what we have is better suited for set piece warfare but today we are fighting individuals or very small groups. One guy shoots an RPG at a US unit then disappears into the crowd. What good is a $170M per copy F-35 in this case? Sure, our troops spot a large group of bad guys, calls in for air support and by the time that air support arrives they are gone only to pop up again once the air support leaves.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 2:05 PM, cityperson wrote:

    Sounds like our wonderful Congress, to sell new technology to someone else in the world. But then again the Marines really need a simple piece of equipment then the V-22.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 2:06 PM, tuanp40fool wrote:

    It is almost guaranteed that this technology will be in the Chinese hand sooner. The best Irarel would be is saying sorry and one official resigns. This has been happened over and over.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 2:22 PM, ellaerdos wrote:

    The Ancient one is correct, The development of the Osprey and the F35 have little use in the type of warfare we are fighting today. They are basically workfare for the Military-Industrial Complex. The Marines should go the way the Brits have and become Special Operation Commandos. The Air Force should be rolled back into the Army (who has more combat aircraft) and the Navy down sized to the true warships of today submarines.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 2:29 PM, ilsm50 wrote:

    Advertizing for Textron/Boeing, this guy is spreading malarkyy about the MV 22 to make the $100M kluge seem like something it is not.

    MV-22 is virtually useless in close combat, it cannot sling heavy loads, with its slow "sink rate" it cannot descend into a hot LZ.

    It is a vertical landing C-130, the only use it has is to do Entebbe without a long run (again).

    MV 22 carries routine supplies, papers, and DV's.

    It is too dangerous to become Marine 1!

    The Kniset likely have stock in Boeing.

    MV 22 good for nothing but jobs at Textron in Texas.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 4:42 PM, guessorgalor wrote:

    They should know how many are available, they have 5 parking spots reserved for them at Boeing and virtually escorted access to any part of the plant.Good thing about it is the jobs they provide, what the hell, we sell anything to anybody so at least here we will get some help in the middle east, next it will be China so they can back engineer it. Boeing's favorite off shore supplier . Curious, did they threaten another Uss Liberty type strike on us if if did not give them the planes.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 5:19 PM, shannonwills77 wrote:

    I willing to bet the two guys advocating getting rid of the Marines are army,I know 7th cav is,the army has been trying to disband the Marinez throughout history,petty jealousy,the Marines throughout history have went in and completed missions the army claimed could not be done or flatout retreated from,they can't stand that man for man the Marines are a better,more respected,storied and feared fighting force than the army,army is larger but Marines do it with less men and less equipment than the army.As long as there is war and a navy Marines will be needed.Just some sibling rivalry there.Fallujah was a shining example,the army couldn't get it done so they sent in the Marines,they did it.Marines go in do the heavy lifting and fighting then the army comes in and occupies and tries to take the credit.One said they should be folded into special ops,the United States Marines are already labeled special operations in most world definitions of armed forces classifications,the expeditionary capability of the Marines is what sets them apart.When something happens you don't hearbsend in the army,you hear send in the Marines,because they have the reputation and capability to get it done in an expeditionary and reliable manner.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 5:27 PM, shannonwills77 wrote:

    Sorry some mispellings on last post,typing quickly on tablet,small keyboard,I will try to slow down and pay a little more attention next time.Don't want some army guys try to play the stupid Marine card,they know full well the Marines have higher enlistment standard than the army,only branch with higher standards is the air force.Most people do not know it but the armed forces as a whole have better scores coming out of high school than the average graduate.But military haters call us the dumb ones because we choose to serve a purpose beyond ourselves.Everyone should do some civil service,it might get rid of some of the selfish nature of the general population.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 5:36 PM, piasabird wrote:

    Well if you worked in the Aircraft industry this might be a good idea. We can just make more. People need jobs.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 6:11 PM, Whisp3r wrote:

    You fools, and who do you think gave them that money to buy the aircraft?

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 7:51 PM, peterwolf wrote:

    Sure. Why not? After a couple more rounds of Pentagon cuts there won't be any Marine Corps left. So they won't need these V-22's anyway.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 8:53 PM, flyguyret wrote:

    I have seldom seen such silliness. First the headline says were stealing aircraft from the Marines but the body reports the Marines won't need them. Then The ARMY/NAVY-MARINE/AF BS, psyco bable about Israel and Islam, and the politics of the Military Industrial Complex.

    The MV-22 Osprey is a highly complex item that cost a lot of good Marine lives in bringing it on line as a weapon system. It's advantages are that it gets the mostus to the fight firstus. We have yet to see if we can control the LZ to prevent an AK-47 launched rocket grenade.

    Let's wish the IDF luck and see what happens.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 11:16 PM, zevcomm wrote:

    Sounds perfectly resonable to me. 6 Ospreys would be a great help to Israel, our only democracy and friend in the region.

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 2:21 AM, evilive20 wrote:

    good news "as a general rule, Israel gets its arms paid for out of U.S. annual military aid"

    lovely the american will die but the Israelis will be more powerful. the main question now. why is it that USA selling the weapons to the Arabs but giving it free to the Zionist?

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 4:46 AM, JoeBoysen wrote:

    This is simply outrageous and I will have to respond in depth later. The Zionist Hate State on the stolen land of Ancestral Palestine is an illegal international terror state with which we should have NO relationship. The Racist Apartheid Christophobic and Islamophobic JudeoFascist Israel First Fifth Column AIPAC Neocon Jewish Supremacist HateStaters who have occupied our government and corrupted every branch of it at every level are criminal traitors who must be rooted out, executed and their stolen fortunes must be confiscated. These satanic creatures have been responsible for a century of wars and millions of innocent dead and of our destroyed country, society, economy and reputation. These scumbags are the SOLE reason we have ANY problems in the Middle East and have been since the Morgenthau-Frankfurter Treason of July 4th 1917. We must block this weapons transfer and ALL others to this terrorist police state, end ALL aid to these gangsters and recover the $150 billion to $1 trillion previously extorted from us and work to disarm and dismantle this colonial fraud and return Palestine to its' SOLE rightful owners since time immemorial, the currently exiled, enslaved and dispossessed people of Palestine. END GHETTOMED!!! Joe Boysen

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 4:51 AM, wildpig wrote:

    please allow the air farce to shine the boots of the marines.... to hell with muslims God bless Israel.

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 12:11 PM, sgtrbmppd1975 wrote:

    Another general has made money on this deal !

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 12:29 PM, orruan wrote:

    WHY WOULD THEY DO SOMETHING SOOOOOO STUPID.ARE GOING TO REPLACE THEM WITH SOMETHING BETTER.LIKE I SAID BEFORE, IF IDIOTS COULD FLY THE PENTAGON WOULD BE AN AIRPORT.

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 3:22 PM, daddyosb wrote:

    They will never do away with the Marines Corps , Our job is to take things , like Hills , Towns , Islands , We take what ever they want us to take and they know it . Then we give it to the Army to hold , sometime we have to take it back again but we know that from working with the Army before . If they did away with us Who would take our place ? The Army , surely you joke lol lol

  • Report this Comment On January 21, 2014, at 12:35 AM, OOWELL wrote:

    keep pumping the middle east with weapons... too bad we americans are paying for this shipment to israel..from out taxes how stupid we are when it comes to israeli issues.. we are controlled by IPAC.. when are we going to wake up and realized this.... WAKE UP AMERICA...

  • Report this Comment On January 21, 2014, at 12:36 AM, OOWELL wrote:

    Former Senator William Fulbright, in the 1970s, and former senior CIA official Victor Marchetti, in the 1980s, contended that AIPAC should have registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) requires those who receive funds or act on behalf of a foreign government to register as a foreign agent. However, AIPAC states that the organization is a registered American lobbying group, funded by private donations, and maintains it receives "no financial assistance" from Israel or any other foreign group.

    In 2006, Representative Betty McCollum (DFL) of Minnesota demanded an apology from AIPAC, claiming an AIPAC representative had described her vote against the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 as "support for terrorists." McCollum stated that AIPAC representatives would not be allowed in her office until she received a written apology for the comment. AIPAC disputed McCollum's claim, and McCollum has since declared the incident over.

    Steiner resignation

    In 1992, AIPAC president David Steiner was forced to resign after he was recorded boasting about his political influence in obtaining aid for Israel. Steiner also claimed that he had met with (then Bush U.S. Secretary of State) Jim Baker and I cut a deal with him. I got, besides the $3 billion, you know they're looking for the Jewish votes, and I'll tell him whatever he wants to hear ... Besides the $10 billion in loan guarantees which was a fabulous thing, $3 billion in foreign, in military aid, and I got almost a billion dollars in other goodies that people don't even know about.

    Steiner also claimed to be "negotiating" with the incoming Clinton administration over who Clinton would appoint as Secretary of State and Secretary of the National Security Agency. Steiner stated that AIPAC had "a dozen people in [the Clinton] campaign, in the headquarters... in Little Rock, and they're all going to get big jobs."

    NY real estate developer Haim Katz told The Washington Times that he taped the conversation because "as someone Jewish, I am concerned when a small group has a disproportionate power. I think that hurts everyone, including Jews. If David Steiner wants to talk about the incredible, disproportionate clout AIPAC has, the public should know about it."

    Franklin pleaded guilty to passing government secrets to Rosen and Weissman and revealed for the first time that he also gave classified information directly to an Israeli government official in Washington. On January 20, 2006, he was sentenced to 151 months (almost 13 years) in prison and fined $10,000. As part of the plea agreement, Franklin agreed to cooperate in the larger federal investigation. All charges against the former AIPAC employees were dropped in 2009

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