Future procurement – where to put the money?

Israeli defence forces are trying to define the contents of the new five-year procurement plan and the Israeli air force (IAF) will no doubt get the larger slice of the cake many want a piece of.

One of the issues the generals face is an IAF request for another 20 Lockheed Martin F-3s.

The dilemma is not new but as weapon systems become much more expensive, we try to solve it – is the weapon system we buy today the answer to the threat in the field in the coming years of its use?

The Israeli government has decided to buy 20 Lockheed Martin F-35s.

With a price tag of more than US $2.75 billion, one could expect the aforementioned dilemma was evaluated and solved. The thing is, this did not happen.

The Israeli government has approved the deal with almost no debate. The IAF has been spoiled over the years and gets what it wants without real opposition. Any attempt to oppose the deal was brushed aside in minutes.

However, the dilemma is again on the table, with outcome unknown. This does not make the dilemma less crucial. Is there a way to decide the future need of an armed force in a region such as the Middle East, based only on the wish of the commanders to always have the most expensive “toys” in the store?

Can the Israeli defence ministry really know what the operational need will be in 2016, when the F-35 deliveries begin?

As each F-35 carries a price tag of about $137 million, the questions should always be: is it worth the price, is there an alternative, and can thinking “outside the box” be a substitute?

I’m not trying to supply answers, but a real debate should begin.


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