How will Obama re-election affect IAF plans?

How will the re-election of president Obama affect the future procurement plans of the Israeli Air Force (IAF)?

This question has been asked in the corridors of the Israeli defence establishment since the result last week.

Experience has shown Israel that decisions relevant to defence exports from the US to Israel are moulded in three different places – the Oval Office, Congress and some offices of the US Department of Defense.

The IAF operates only US-made platforms. These are purchased with the annual foreign military funding from the US.

This has created an equation that says: “We support your defence needs,  you follow our guidelines.”

That equation killed off, for example, the Israeli Lavi fighter programme and stopped Israeli-made airborne early warning systems taking off for China.

Now, in his second term in the White House, Obama may act according to a new set of guidelines.

Israel has expressed its wish to purchase a second squadron of F-35s and asked for more funds to accelerate the development of its three-tiered antirocket/antimissile system.

Israeli observers are split in their opinions. Some say that the next four years will be a carbon copy of the last. Others say that Israel and its procurement aspirations will be a totally different ball game.

This could not have happened at a worse time. The Iranian threat, the civil war in Syria, which in recent days has crawled towards the border with Israel, and other defence issues mean it is not a good time for tensions between Washington and Jerusalem.

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