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Thread: Israel to finalize JSF purchase plans

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    Israel to finalize JSF purchase plans

    Israel to finalize JSF purchase plans

    By YAAKOV KATZ
    08/08/2010 01:47

    Barak to chair meeting on procurement of stealth fighter jets.

    Defense Minister Ehud Barak will chair a key meeting this week during which he is expected to decide whether Israel will buy new stealth fighter jets.

    Barak was in Washington late last month for talks with his American counterpart, Robert Gates, that focused on Israeli plans to purchase the fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

    While the Pentagon has approved an Israeli request to buy 75 JSFs, Israel plans – as a first stage – to acquire only around 20.

    Two main obstacles have slowed down Israeli procurement plans until now – the price of each aircraft is likely to reach just over $140 million, and there is US opposition to the integration of Israeli systems into the planes. Barak raised the second issue with Gates and announced after the meeting that significant progress had been made.

    Due to the high cost of the aircraft, Israel will, as a first stage, buy a smaller number of aircraft, which will be configured, with minor changes, the same as those operated by the US Air Force. These planes will begin arriving in Israel toward the end of 2015.

    The second batch of aircraft, likely to arrive in the second half of the decade, will already be designed according to Israeli specifications and include Israeli-made systems.

    Barak will convene senior Defense Ministry procurement officials and top IDF and IAF officers for a meeting on Wednesday, during which the details of a deal are expected to be finalized. Barak will then bring the agreement to the security cabinet for final approval.

    One of the Israel Air Force’s main motivations for becoming the first non-US customer to receive the aircraft is concern that other countries in the region – particularly Egypt and Saudi Arabia – will be allowed to purchase the aircraft.

    Israel, for example, was the first country outside the US to buy F-15s, but Saudi Arabia now operates a significant number of F-15s and is in talks with the Pentagon regarding the purchase of an additional 84.

    While the Saudi interest in the new plane is understood as having more to do with the kingdom’s concern regarding Iran’s nuclear program, Israel is also worried about the increasing Saudi air power.

    “We work according to the assumption that other countries will receive the jet, and that is why we need to be the first,” a top IDF officer said last week. “The JSF not only provides unbelievable capabilities, but will also assist Israel in boosting its deterrence.”
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    A little more information below. Looks like Israel is one step closer still. It probably helps that they are using US defense aid....

    Sun Aug 15, 2010 10:51am EDT
    (Reuters) - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved in principle on Sunday the purchase of 20 U.S.-built radar-evading stealth fighters in a deal worth $2.75 billion, defense ministry officials said.

    The F-35 warplanes are expected to be delivered between 2015 to 2017, an Israeli defense official said.

    Israeli leaders have spoken of arch-foe Iran potentially developing a nuclear weapon by mid-decade, suggesting that the F-35s would not be used for any preventive action, but rather to bolster the country's deterrence.

    A ministry statement said Barak "approved in principle the recommendations of the Israel Defense Forces and the Defense Ministry to move ahead" with the purchase.

    The stealth fighter, made by Lockheed Martin Corp, "will afford Israel continued air superiority and maintain the technological edge in our region," the statement quoted Barak as saying.

    The defense official said Israel planned to buy initially 20 planes, estimating the total price tag at $2.75 billion, to be covered by an annual U.S. defense grant of $3 billion.

    Officials predicted final approval of the deal could be given by the end of September by a panel of Israeli government ministers.

    Israel would be the first foreign country to sign an agreement to buy the F-35, or Joint Strike Fighter, outside the eight international partners that have helped to develop the plane.

    The deal has been in negotiations since September 2008, when the Pentagon first approved the sale of 25 fighters with an option for more in the coming years.

    The F-35 is designed to avoid detection by radar and could play a role in any Israeli effort to knock out what it regards as the threat to its existence posed by Iran's nuclear program. Tehran denies Western and Israeli allegations that it is trying to produce atomic weapons.

    Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Shani said incorporation of Israeli technologies into the F-35 had played a role in Barak's decision to buy the aircraft.

    Israel, widely assumed to have the Middle East's sole nuclear arsenal, also had considered a cheaper option -- the purchase of a modified version of Boeing's F-15 fighter, an aircraft it already deploys.

    (Additional reporting by Dan Williams, Writing by Ori Lewis)
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    And more still. Looks like its a done deal, courtest of Haaretz.com:

    Published 00:41 16.08.10 Latest update 00:41 16.08.10
    Defense Minister Barak approves purchase of 20 F-35 fighters for around $2.75 billion
    By Anshel Pfeffer

    Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave the go-ahead yesterday for the purchase of 20 F-35 fighter jets in a deal valued at around $2.75 billion. The first planes are expected to arrive in 2015.

    F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp.

    The Israel Air Force, however, will have to make do with considerably fewer planes than the 75 originally sought. The entire deal will be funded by American military aid and still needs the cabinet's approval.

    "The F-35 is the fighter plane of the future that will allow Israel to maintain its aerial superiority and its technological advantage in the region," Barak said. "The F-35 will give the IAF better capabilities, both near and far, to help strengthen Israel's national security."

    Negotiations dragged on for more than two years amid several disagreements; many revolved around the IAF's demands that Israeli-made systems be installed for specialties such as electronic warfare and communications. Israel also wanted to expand the plane's capacity to allow it to carry Israeli-made missiles.

    The Americans declined, however, insisting that the deal was a "closed package" and none of the components could be altered.

    In any case, the F-35 will give the IAF outstanding radar-dodging capabilities that allow preemptive strikes against enemy states with advanced air defense technologies.

    In a bid to maintain Israel's technological gap ahead of Arab states, the F-35 deal was pushed through instead of upgrading the air force's F-15s and F-16s. This approach sticks to the principle that Israel is the first country in the Middle East to receive the newest fighter aircraft.

    The IAF was sufficiently committed to this principle to override protests from the leaders of Israeli defense contractors, who claimed that the deal was damaging them.

    The package also got by opposition from a number of members of the General Staff who criticized the high price of the deal, which does not allow for investment into weapons for the land forces and navy.

    Two weeks ago, Barak and Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Shani visited the United States and met with senior officials in the Pentagon, as well as representatives of Lockheed Martin, to discuss the purchase.

    They agreed that Israel would begin by buying a first squadron of 20 F-35 jets from the first production series. It would only install a few Israel-made systems. The Americans, meanwhile, have agreed that if Israel buys more F-35 squadrons from later production series, the installation of more Israeli-made systems will be allowed.

    To sweeten the deal, Lockheed Martin said it would buy parts and systems for the F-35 from Israeli companies at a cost of $4 billion.

    The total price tag confirmed by Barak indicates that each plane costs about $96 million, with further expenses on training, simulators, spare parts and the building of maintenance infrastructure.

    Shani said that apart from the jet's operational capacity, a significant factor in closing the deal included previous agreements on integrating Israeli defense contractors in producing the jet for other clients.
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    20 planes??? You can't do shit with 20 planes since half of them would be grounded for maintenance and 5 of the available ones will be flying but not combat capable because of some testing stuff and whatnot. You need at least 60 to have a viable combat force that is ready at all times.

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    Resident Curmudgeon Military Professional Gun Grape's Avatar
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    Its all the US could afford to buy for them.

    Maybe they could use their own money and buy more

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gun Grape View Post
    Its all the US could afford to buy for them.

    Maybe they could use their own money and buy more
    I agree with you in principle, and I've stated more than once that Israel doesn't need the US military aid. The US aid comes out to something like 2% of the budget, and we'll survive if it's not there, I guarantee you.

    However, as long as the US is gonna keep giving the money, might as well use it, no? At least this way those $3 billion get put right back into the US economy, buying US product and keeping US jobs running.

    It's actually an interesting question, where do those #3 billion go further? If they stay in the US budget, or if they're sent to Israel with the proviso that they can only be used to buy US products, therefore boosting the US economy from the outside?
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    Every aid has its own strings, sometimes technologically, sometimes economically.
    On the flip side, why not commit more funds to buy more planes as Hitesh proposed?
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    I think the main bar to that is that the Israelis want to put their own avionics into the JSF, something which isn't quite feasible at the moment. The first planes will be delivered to the IAF in 5 years, and they probably will order more if the avionics thing is settled, something that shouldn't be a problem once the JSF line has been running smoothly for a few years.
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    Agreed. Also, I expect that Israel will use these first 20 aircraft to get some preliminary work done that is requried before they can start using F-35s successfully in the field. I suspect they will use these 20 aircraft to start training the future maintenance and pilot instructors, learn the aircraft's capablities first hand, and maybe even start to develop/refine some operational tactics and CONOPS (they don't need mutliple squadrons to do some of these things).
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    Senior Contributor Stitch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenix10 View Post
    Agreed. Also, I expect that Israel will use these first 20 aircraft to get some preliminary work done that is requried before they can start using F-35s successfully in the field. I suspect they will use these 20 aircraft to start training the future maintenance and pilot instructors, learn the aircraft's capablities first hand, and maybe even start to develop/refine some operational tactics and CONOPS (they don't need mutliple squadrons to do some of these things).
    bigross, where do Israeli pilots train, especially on new a/c? Do they come to the US, or do you guys do your own in-country training? If, as Phoenix says, they're gonna use the first 20 airframes strictly to train with, might they not stay in the US, at least temporarily, in order to train the Israeli pilots?
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    I'm not quite sure, but I think it's both. The original group goes to the US to train, and after learning the basics of the airframe and the avionics, the airframes are brought back to Israel where they write up their own training discipline and really get into learning the airframe and all it's systems, in order to start training the next round of pilot's locally.
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    Well,also they used to practice in Konya/Turkey,which will probably be replaced with x/Greece. Good old times...

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    They cut back big time, it wasn't long ago they wanted 100, then 75... now 24. Netherlands and Denmark dropped out. Now Obama is threatening Turkey to straighten up or none for them. It is nothing but bad news for JSF.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KRON1 View Post
    They cut back big time, it wasn't long ago they wanted 100, then 75... now 24. Netherlands and Denmark dropped out. Now Obama is threatening Turkey to straighten up or none for them. It is nothing but bad news for JSF.
    KRON1,

    I don't thinks its all bad news for the F-35...

    Read the article again. Israel has not decided to only order 20 F-35s. They have decided to only order 20 F-35s right now. The next batch that they order is supposed to have Israeli avionics. I wouldn't call this a set back to the program. An order on the books is good news!

    The Dutch have not cancelled their order. They have simply cancelled the order for their first test aircraft and decided not to participate in the IOT&E phase. The still could purchase the aircarft and have not said that they will not. Again, not a huge set back:

    Dutch Vote to Cancel Order for F-35 JSF

    Denmark has decided to push out it's order for any new fighter to 2012. The F-35 may still get the order in the future (although slightly unlikely). I wouldn't say this spells doom and gloom either, but it's definitely not pleasant for the F-35:

    Fighter jet contract goes down

    There has been good news recently as well. Canada just agreed to purchase 65 F-35 and the flight test program is ahead of the current schedule:

    http://www.f-16.net/news_article4137.html
    UPDATE 3-Canada to buy 65 F-35 jet fighters in C$9 bln deal | Reuters

    In general, the F-35 is technically better (more mature) at this stage of the game than many previous new aircraft developments. The recent problems to the F-35 program have been programatic and managerial, not technical (so far as I have read).
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    Here is some more information from Aviation Week on the "F-35I". Topics include integration of Spice A2G missile (internal), A2A version of stunner (IR + RF) missile (internal), external fuel tanks (non-stealthy), total order of 75 F-35Is, installation of Israeli componenets, and Israeli workshare...

    Participation Helps Clinch Israeli F-35 Deal | AVIATION WEEK
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