US approves 25 F-35 “stealth” fighter aircraft sale to Israel
The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency has approved the $15.2 billion sale of 25 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for Israel with an option for another 50, saying it is vital to US national security interests to assist Israel develop “a strong and ready self-defense capability.”
debkafile‘s military sources report that President George W, Bush, in mid-financial crisis, fully discharged his promise of a defense package for Israeli before he left office. There was no announcement of the date of supply.
Earlier this month, the Pentagon approved up to $330 million in three separate arms deals for Israel and posted its advanced FBX-band radar system to an Israeli Air Force base in the Negev.
Israel is the first foreign nation to receive the up-to-the-minute Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike stealth fighter, which will replace the older F-16 fighters and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground defenses and by virtue of five exceptional features:
1. An advanced radar for striking ground or air targets long distance while destroying any threat in its immediate environment.
2. An electro-optical targeting system (EOTS).
3. The pilot’s helmet-mounted displays (HMD).
4. It is the first fighter plane in the world with a communications system linked to satellites.
5. The capacity for carrying large quantities of ordnance – from joint direct attack munitions to AIM-120 and AIM-132 air-to-air missiles.
The first consignment of 25 F-35’s has a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) configuration, while the next 50 are short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft. In the event of an armed conflict, the Israel Air Force calculates that its long runways will be in danger of attack by Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas.
The deal was approved after senior Israeli and US officials met in Washington this month and assurances were tendered that sensitive technologies would not be passed to third parties.