Israeli developed systems for F-35 not in this “restaurant”

By ARIE EGOZI

 

You have in your restaurant the best products for preparing a gourmet dinner‫,‬ but your partner, who is stronger physically and has a larger bank account, forces you to serve a simple dinner that will not satisfy the guests.

This is a colourful way of describing the feelings of some Israeli defence and aerospace industries when they talk about the contract to buy 20 Lockheed Martin F-35s.

When Israel joined the F-35 programme very late, it did not realise that not being able to make a mark in the design phase was the least of problems.

When I talk to Israeli industry sources, their definition of the situation ranges from “a big problem” to “a disaster “. They are not talking about the money that they will lose by not being able to put, for example, some “super advanced” missiles on the stealth fighter.

They say the F-35 deal, in current conditions, will create a gap of at least one generation in their ability to develop these top of-the-line systems for future requirements.

Without breaching any limitations of the country’s censors, I can say some Israeli companies, such as Rafael and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), have developed weapon systems that can be included in the “super advanced” class.

As things stand, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) will receive the F-35s not only late, but without the edge that some Israeli-developed systems could have given them.

The US position is clear – the Israeli F-35s will not fly with a radar or EW system developed in Israel, based on the vast operational experience of the IAF. But worse, the aircraft will not be armed with the “super weapons”.

The IAF does not talk openly about its concerns, but I bet that behind closed doors they are discussed. The industries have tried for some time to play it cool. But with all efforts to change the US decision having failed, they are beginning to express their concerns.

Is there a chance to change the situation? Not given the tense atmosphere between Washington and Jerusalem on issues such as Palestine and Iran.

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