Selecting a main system – not just specs (welcome to reality)

There‫ ‬is no competition aimed at selecting a main defence platform that is not “infected” with political considerations.

Israel has avoided these considerations by, until recently, purchasing almost all its main systems from the US, using that country’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme.

That easy life ended when the Israeli air force short-listed two finalists to replace the Israeli air force’s old A-4s with a modern, advanced training aircraft. The two final contenders are the South Korean KAI T-50 and the Italian Aermacchi M-346, both of which answer the operational needs of the air force.

For the first time, Israel had to make a decision between two countries. The Italians want the contract a great deal – so much that they improved their chances with a written obligation for over $1 billion worth of purchases of systems made in Israel. The Koreans “gave their word” that they would also buy from the Israeli defence industry.

But at this point, the competition became a little complicated, as the Koreans claimed that Israel has virtually closed a deal with Italy behind their back. The Israeli ministry of defence had to allow Seoul to improve the offset proposal. The deadline for this improved proposal is in four days.

Israel has vested interests in both Italy and Korea, but it seems it did not play the game according to the unwritten rules.

That’s what happens to a country that for the first time is thrown into the real market. In the past, the fiercest competition was between two American companies, such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Welcome to the real world.

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