Joined: 09 Sep 2006
|Posted: Thu Sep 17, 2009 2:24 pm Post subject: IAF may cut Joint Strike Fighter order
|IAF may cut Joint Strike Fighter order
~Yaakov Katz , THE JERUSALEM POST Sep. 16, 2009
The Defense Ministry has told the Pentagon that the Israeli Air Force may
only purchase 20 Joint Strike Fighters - and not 25 as planned - if the
price of the aircraft is significantly higher than $100 million, defense
officials said this week.
In a Letter of Request (LOR) which the Defense Ministry submitted in July,
Israel asked the Pentagon to purchase 25 JSF F-35 stealth fighter jets, but
officials said Tuesday that the target date of the beginning of 2010 for a
contract would likely not be met.
Also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the F-35 will be one of the
most-advanced fighter jets in the world and will, according to the IAF,
significantly boost Israel's deterrence in the Middle East. The JSF is
manufactured by Lockheed Martin.
Earlier this week, Defense Ministry Dir.-Gen. Pinchas Buhris met with heads
of all the major Israeli defense industries and promised that he would
continue working with the Americans in an effort to receive approval to
integrate as much Israeli technology in the plane as possible.
One official who attended the meeting that discussions were held on the
possibility that Israel will demand that 50 percent of the electronic
technology on the plane be made here. In another move aimed at lowering the
price of the aircraft, Israel has also told the Pentagon that it would
consider downsizing its initial order if the price increased dramatically.
In the negotiations with the Pentagon, Israeli demands have focused on three
issues - the integration of Israeli-made electronic warfare systems into the
plane, the integration of Israeli communication systems and the ability to
independently maintain the plane in the event of a technical or structural
In an interview with Defense News earlier this summer, Buhris said: "We
understand and appreciate American sensitivities and have adjusted our
expectations of this aircraft accordingly. But the gap is still large, the
price is still too high. It's unreasonable to expect us to compromise on
critical operational needs."
The Israeli Air Force had initially hoped to sign a Letter of Agreement
(LOA) in the coming months, but officials said that until the differences
were resolved and a price was determined the contract would be postponed. If
that happens, the arrival of the aircraft - initially slated for 2014 -
would also be pushed off.
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