Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday met Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and finalized the sale of an undisclosed number of Bell Boeing V-22 transport helicopters and other U.S. military equipment including Boeing KC-135 inflight refueling planes, advanced radar systems for fighter planes and anti-radiation missiles at a reported cost of $10 billion dollars.
Hagel and Ya’alon announced the sale during a joint press conference in Tel Aviv. The U.S. defense secretary said the new military equipment was intended to “ensure Israeli air superiority” for years to come, and prefaced the sale by saying Sunday that the deal should send a clear message to Iran.
Hagel kicked off a week-long, 5-country regional visit Sunday, a trip which expected to focused on Iran, the Syrian civil war and weapons sales to America’s allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Hagel is using his first visit to Israel as Pentagon chief to underscore his view that Israel must decide for itself whether and when to use military force against Iran. He told reporters on his flight from Washington that Israel has every right to defend itself, and that Israel and the U.S. share the objective of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
“Israel will make the decision that Israel must make to protect itself, to defend itself,” Hagel told reporters during the flight.
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