Israel Plans to Order US F-15 Silent Eagles in Preference to F-35 fighters

Israel has reassessed its military procurement plans from the United States in the light of the Russian military intervention in Syria.
Rather than go for dozens of its first ever stealth fighter, the fifth-generation stealth F-35, the Israeli Air Force is considering reducing this order, preferring instead more F-15 Silent Eagles (SE). While not stealth capable, the F-15 SE is better able to evade the radar of the advanced air defense systems that Russia has deployed in Syria.
Even six years ago, DEBKA Weekly’s sources report, the original order placed by then Defense Minister Ehud Barak for F-35 strike fighters came in for criticism and was cut down from 75 to 50.
It has now been reduced to 14, in view mainly of seven shortcomings, perceived by several aviation experts, in relation to current Middle East conditions:
1. The F-35’s description as the top stealth fighter in the West does not stand up to scrutiny, say Israeli and US experts. They consider the Defense Department went too far in reducing the stealth component of the aircraft, because it underestimated the advanced features of Russian radar systems. The F-35 fighter has turned out to be detectable on certain spectrums by Russian and Chinese air defense systems.
2. The F-35 is not effective enough in jamming enemy radar. Israeli and US experts maintain that Lockheed Martin, which developed the plane, placed too much emphasis on its defenses against missile attack and economized on its stealth qualities.
3. The key question of whether the F-35 can launch a missile before it itself is spotted by the enemy has not been definitively resolved. Most experts believe that the answer is no.
4. The Israeli pilots who tested the plane were not overenthusiastic about its performance.
5. One of the conditions of sale set by the US government and Lockheed Martin was that Israel may not install its own avionics or electronic systems in the F-35 fighters it purchases, and would therefore be disallowed from fixing any glitches that might crop up.
6. F-35’s payload is one-fifth of the amount carried by F-15 Silent Eagle.
7. The F-35 has missed production dates, sprung serious technical faults and its development costs have soared.
Israel’s security cabinet has therefore recommended cutting down on the F-35 order and purchasing instead another two squadrons of the Boeing F-15 SE, fitted with AESA radar. The ministers overrode the wishes of the military high command.
The F-15 is the most advanced version of the most versatile American tactical fighter. It is not a stealth aircraft, but its reduced radar signature makes it the next best thing on offer by a US company.
Getting the app. $10 billion F-15 order through depends on the size of the next US military assistance package. Negotiations on this Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon estimates will be wound up within a few weeks.
If the final package of $50 billion is approved for the 10-year period starting in 2018, Israel will be able to buy the F-15 Silent Eagle. But if it is held down to $40 billion, Israel will most likely have to forego the F-15s and be content with the F-35, as second best.
The Pentagon is keen on Israel ordering the entire quantity of 50 F-35 fighters, maintaining that this plane would guarantee Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region. But offered a choice, Israel would be inclined to cut down on the F-35s and procure a mix of the two fighters on offer.

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