Reports that Israel’s plan to buy a dozen V-22 Osprey tiltrotor troop transports is dead are — as Mark Twain said after reading his own incorrect obituary — greatly exaggerated. A U.S. Letter of Agreement offering a bargain price and early delivery of the first six of 12 Ospreys requested by Israel formally expired on Wednesday amid political turmoil in Tel Aviv and new elections scheduled for March 17. But a source close to the program said the Israeli Ministry of Defense sent a letter to the U.S. government this week asking that the U.S. offer be put on ice — not withdrawn — until a new Israeli government takes power in 2015.

“The requirement for the V-22 is strong from the point of view of the air force and the army and the special agencies,” this source said. “They all think it’s something the Israeli air force should have and provide services to all the customers with.” Built to carry 24 troops, the Osprey tilts two large wingtip rotors upward to take off and land like a helicopter and swivels them forward to fly like a turboprop airplane, giving it roughly twice the speed and five times the unrefueled range of conventional military helicopters.

Current Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon had approved the plan to buy Ospreys as recently as three months ago, but defense budget pressures created by the most recent Gaza war, Israel’s plan to buy F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, and the unrelated political turmoil all led Ya’alon to decide against getting final approval for the deal from the Israeli cabinet. […]