Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Israeli lawmakers approve F-35's bought but want to examine alternatives before buying more

Thanks to Moebius 2249 for the link!

via Defense News.
While lawmakers endorsed the government’s recent actions to acquire another 17 aircraft and thereby ensure two full stealth squadrons for the Air Force, they insisted follow-on purchases must be assessed in terms of how they contribute to national defense policy relative to alternatives.

Israel finalized last month an agreement with the U.S. government and F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin for another 17 planes. It was the third tranche of F-35 contracts, following an order for 19 aircraft in 2010 and another 14 F-35s in 2015.

“This does not detract from the vast professionalism of the Israel Air Force, but we cannot ignore the need to meticulously assess the face of the future, especially with regard to air combat platforms, which are so expensive, critical and [subject to] rapidly changing technologies,” subcommittee authors wrote.

Lawmakers said they intended to exercise their oversight role through a series of hearings on air-power alternatives aimed at influencing the IDF’s next five-year plan following the current plan, “Gideon,” which ends in 2020.

“The Committee will assess in depth ... the issue of Israeli rocket capabilities, and the potential for realistic and significant alternatives to the aerial option. The committee reasons that despite the proven capability of the Israel Air Force, it must seriously assess alternatives given future challenges and threats to the Air Force‘s ability to operate in any theater and under any conditions.”
Story here. 

Hmm.  Wonder who's whispering in the ear of Israeli lawmakers.  This is totally unexpected and I wonder if the IDF isn't looking for an off ramp with the F-35.

One thing about this airplane that hasn't been talked about with the IDF is this.  Who pays for the needed upgrades?  I don't know the block they bought or what structural and software upgrades will be needed to make the airplanes fully combat capable, but they're buying early...real early.

Are they gonna do like the US and simply park those airplanes and buy newer ones later or do they pay to upgrade?

Additionally this statement indicates that there is some doubt about the ability to penetrate enemy air defenses into the future.

Did the S-400 just make the IDF blink?  Do they have intel that makes them believe it might be better to transport a Long Range MLRS to a vacant part of the desert and let the rockets penetrate enemy airspace?

This is a good read but leaves me with more questions than answers.

We definitely need to watch this carefully.

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