Lockheed: Road to F-35 sales in Gulf goes through Israel

So I woke up this morning. Turned on the coffee.Opened the laptop. Started browsing articles. Took a sip. Then SPLGHGHGH! Coffee goes everywhere.

My coffee slurp was ambushed by a seemingly “gone rogue” quote by a Lockheed Martin guy yesterday at the Bahrain airshow. I had to re-read it a few times just to make sure I was interpreting it correctly. But, yes, there it was at the bottom of the following excerpt:

“Israel is extremely interested and we very much hope thatwe will make a deal with Israel for F-35s this year,” PatrickDewar, a corporate vice president at Lockheed Martin toldReuters at the Bahrain air show.

“When we talk about Israel, somewhere between 75 and 100jets,” he said, when asked to estimate the size of the marketfor F-35s.

Dewar also said he expected more countries in the region toexpress interest for the plane that is designed to replace F-16sand F-18s fighter jets.

“I think very shortly after that there are going to be aseries of countries here in the Gulf region that will alsopublicly state their interest in F-35s and the United Statesgovernment will start talking to them about it,” he said.

Some of you might be thinking, “Well, that’s just common sense, isn’t it?” Perhaps. But I don’t question the logic. I myself attempted to extract the same basic statement from Lockheed executives at the Dubai Airshow in November, especially after the United Arab Emirates unexpectedly let it slip that Abu Dhabi is now on board the fifth-generation fighter bandwagon. I got bupkiss. Lockheed didn’t bring so much as an F-35 brochure to Dubai, and executives stayed rigidly on message. Talking about an Israel sale opening up the Arab market for F-35s was not part of that message, whether it happened to be true or not.

Now the statement is “out there”, so we can discus the implications. The UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia are each in various stages of negotiations over fighter sales. The Dassault Rafale figures prominently in these talks, as does the Lockheed F-16 and Boeing F-15. If Israel completes a deal for F-35s this year, which mind you is a big ‘if’, could the F-35 suddenly become the new darling of the Arab world?


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11 Responses to Lockheed: Road to F-35 sales in Gulf goes through Israel

  1. John S 23 January, 2010 at 2:43 pm #


    On an unrelated, but similar subject, the RSS feed of Flight’s Defence headlines has the following title: “Israel sets sights on two-seater F-35″

    But the link to the full story: http://www.flightglobal.com/Articles/2010/01/22/337464/israel-sets-sights-on-two-seater-f-35.html

    points to an “I’m sorry, this story doesn’t exist” page.
    This is the first I’ve ever heard about a two seat F-35. What’s the story?

  2. Stephen Trimble 23 January, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    Sorry about the broken link. I’ll check that out.

    ~The headline should actually read that Israeli industry has set sights on a two-seater F-35. The article is a sidebar in a special report I wrote about Israel’s aerospace industry, based on a trip from late-November (right after I covered the Dubai Airshow actually). I can’t say I’m the first person to report that the Israeli Air Force wants to buy a two-seat F-35 eventually. Those honors belong to David Fulghum at Aviation Week. But Israeli industry executives told me they desire to play a role in production system for a two-seat version, if it ever comes to pass.

  3. solomon 23 January, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    I don’t know if they intended it but they’ve just confirmed that there will be different levels of F-35.

    What those levels will be I don’t know. Will the US, Australia, UK, Netherlands etc…have level 1.

    Israel, S.Korea etc…have level 2 (since they want there own weapon systems in the airplane)…

    And Middle Eastern countries a lower level????

  4. glider 24 January, 2010 at 10:28 am #

    I see a two seater F35 as the way to make a very effective EW vector with a busy elbit or alike electronics operator sitting behind the pilot and making sams and even airborne radars if not aams take a nap.

    I think syrian strike was a good hint.

  5. aeroxavier 24 January, 2010 at 11:03 am #

    f-35 can be sale in the gulf when he was ready

  6. Royce 25 January, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    Lockheed Martin would sell the F-35 in the Gulf area even if Israel doesn’t buy it (which is a pretty good reason for Israel to buy it, in a bit of circular salesmanship). The ME market is just too big to let slide, particularly at a time when European partners are going to have reduced requirements for the aircraft.

  7. EG 25 January, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    Naysayers aside,
    If the unit costs are to be brought down, they’d better sell a bucket load of jets.

  8. airplanejim 25 January, 2010 at 7:54 pm #

    Stephen, I had to chuckle at your dismay in the change of direction for the F-35 in the ME. After 40 years in aerospace, I wish I had a dollar for every time I awoke in the morning saluting the flag flying in a southerly direction only to see by noon time the flag was snapping straight and true to the north. Military sales/procurement change in a heart beat in the whims of the wind. Thanks for your coverage of the ever changing industry.

  9. Niko Serdar 27 January, 2010 at 2:00 am #

    One thing that amazes me regarding F-35 is LM highly optimistic foreign delivery schedule. As of lately everybody is lowering IOC for export market while for domestic one it is slipping. As for possible Gulf sales I highly doubt that we will see F-35 on a Gulf Council tarmac before 2018-2020. While no doubt that Israeli sale will galvanize GCC countries, in the wider region after Israel and Turkey I would place my bet on Egypt as the next recipient.

  10. roger 5 February, 2010 at 2:04 am #

    The F-35 is yrs away until full service, and with cost climbing daily, UAV
    will be the way to go. Who needs fighter jocks.

  11. Soraya Ogorman 12 October, 2010 at 11:15 pm #

    Here’s the lawyer’s Happy Hour menu: Well Drink … $ 100 Call Drink … $ 80 …0 Don’t Want A Drink … $400 Getting Screwed While You Have The Drink … NO CHARGE

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