When a child wants a new toy, he should have a loving caring mother or a wealthy grandmother. In the case of the Lockheed Martin F-35, the Israeli airforce (IAF) is the child while the USA is the wealthy grandmother. The mother is very caring but with very shallow pockets.
The decision to purchase the F-35 will affect any other procurement programs of the IAF in the next 20 years. The $4 billion deal for the acquisition of 20 F-35′s will not leave enough money for other purchases. The money comes from the US foreign military financing (FMF), the US annual military grant that Israel gets , but that is the source for most of the Israeli defence procurement.
The operational needs of the IAF are many, immediate and complex. Israel has been engaged in fighting almost since its establishment in 1948. Some of the wars like the Six Days War and the “Yom Kippur” war, involved fighting against some Arab airforces. But most of the operations since these wars can be put into the low intensity wars category. No dogfights, almost none anti aircraft fire.
The IAF is well equipped to handle any type of war. Its F-15′s and F-16′s are equipped with the most advanced systems, some developed and made locally.
Since the IAF expressed it interest in the F-35 , voices were heard against this deal. The opposition came from very experienced ex airforce people and from others that know a thing or two about the complex Israeli defence problems.
The opposition can be summed up in not so many words – the F-35 is intended to operate against ” third circle ” enemies , namely Iran.
The stealth fighter can carry a very limited payload of bombs. The mission can therefore be better performed by existing platforms. The task of “blinding” the Iranian air defences can be performed by unmanned air vehicles and then the fighters with a heavy load of bombs , will be capable of hitting the targets.
The IAF has always wanted the most advanced equipment. But never before the price of one fighter reached 137 million u.s $ with all the ” extras “.
Israel has committed itself to the purchase of 20 F-35′s . When the IAF wants a main platform it usually gets it from the “grandmother” with the deep pockets. The other services can only watch enviously and imagine how far their procurement dreams have become a dream.