Headline: World goes nuts over fighter sales for one week

The already dubious world of international fighter sales has made some geo-political somersaults this week.

Most significant are reports from Russia and Israel that China is selling 24 J-10 fighters to Iran. This comes after months of speculation that Iran was negotiating a whopper deal to buy 250 Su-30s from Russia. The term “Iranian air defense” suddenly doesn’t sound so silly anymore.

Still interesting, but of lesser strategic value, are reports that Korea has decided to skip over a second batch of F-15s in favor of buying a fifth-generation fighter, presumably such as F-22 or F-35. If I read the Pacific Rim geo-political tea leaves correctly, this means Japan and China now must get their hands on a fifth-generation fighter, too. Memo to Tokyo’s arms buyers: beers are on Lockheed Martin’s tab for the next five years.

From the can-you-believe-it file, France has somehow found a way to lose a gimme contract for Rafale fighters from Morocco, which has reportedly decided to buy the Lockheed Martin F-16. The deal may help to console Lockheed executives who last week lost Thailand as a loyal fighter customer to Sweden’s Gripen.

Finally, you can read my story next week in Flight International about the US Air Force’s new proposal to keep the F-22 production line alive for at least one more year. The implications for the F-35 budget in 2010 could be profound.

That’s one heck of a week in the fighter business.


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One Response to Headline: World goes nuts over fighter sales for one week

  1. Paul Richfield 25 October, 2007 at 9:48 pm #

    Steve, the term “fighter” is dated, apparently.

    Now we’re calling them “g-tolerant, non-traditional ISR platforms.”



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