‘Cablegate’ scoops on Rafale, Israeli UAVs, Turkey’s F-35s

Buried in Wikileaks’ latest document dump exposing about 250,000 US diplomatic cables are a few items of real interest to the global aerospace industry. Here’s my list of the five most interesting cables:

1. A cable on 4 November 2009 summarizes a meeting between then-US Central Command chief Gen David Petraeus and King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain. Pushing Petraeus to pressure US fighter manufacturers to participate in the upcoming Bahrain air show, the monarch of Manama noted Dassault Rafale would be represented. Hamad, however, is apparently not a fan of the Rafale, as “he agreed with Petraeus that the French fighter was yesterday’s technology”. Oh la la!

2. In a cable dated 22 December 2009, Israeli political-military chief Amos Gilad talks about Russian interest in Israeli UAV technology. Although Russia is prepared to pay $1 billion for access to Israeli’s latest capability, Israel is not inclined to sell, Gilad says. “Such technology would likely end up in the hands of the Chinese,” the cable says, paraphrasing Gilad’s remarks. This raises a question about exactly what Russia wants to buy. Could it be the Eitan (or Heron 2), or perhaps a secret project? The cable doesn’t say.

3. Qatar operates two Boeing C-17s, but a cable dated 10 August 2009 reveals misgivings. Qatar’s military “clearly registered its disappointment” that the US government blocked the installation of the Northrop Grumman large area infrared countermeasures (LAIRCM) as part of the direct commercial sale of the large transports. The chief of staff of Qatari’s military was “particularly sensitive”, believing the LAIRCM rejection made him look bad to his civilian superiors.

4. Israel’s concerns about US arms sales to Arab states are well-known, but two cables illuminate the process. A cable on 18 November 2009 describes Israeli concerns about the US government plan to sell F-15SAs to Saudi Arabia and AIM-120C7 AMRAAMs to Jordan. Another cable on 30 July 2009 explains the F-15SA concerns are focused on the transfer of Enhanced Paveway II bombs, joint helmet mounted cueing system (JHMCS) and active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The same cable also registers concerns about the US government’s plan to sell Cessna Caravans and Raven unmanned aircraft systems to the Lebanon air force, which Israel fears could become targets in a war with Hezbollah.

5. So far, I have found only one mention of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). A cable on 16 February 2010 summarizes a meeting between Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and his counterpart in Turkey, Vecdi Gonul. Perhaps concerned about preserving national sovereignty, Gonul noted the importance of establishing F-35 maintenance facilities in Turkey.


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9 Responses to ‘Cablegate’ scoops on Rafale, Israeli UAVs, Turkey’s F-35s

  1. Robert 29 November, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

    Interesting. Along the same line, most Gulf states support a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities….


  2. RobH 29 November, 2010 at 10:55 pm #

    Excellent nuggets you’ve found, Mr. Trimble!

    I am rather ambivolent about my country’s backside being laid bare, though.

    “Too many secrets”…

  3. Matt 30 November, 2010 at 3:07 am #

    “”Although Russia is prepared to pay $1 billion for access to Israeli’s latest capability, Israel is not inclined to sell, Gilad says. “Such technology would likely end up in the hands of the Chinese,”"

    That’s funny, I thought it was that whatever US tech ended up in Israel ended up getting to the Chinese…

  4. aeroxavier 30 November, 2010 at 5:00 pm #

    rafale yesterday technology….
    one month before this news, you have the exercise in UAE where the rafale have make some good skill.
    Now you can see the american action for stop the export sale of rafale.

  5. dude 30 November, 2010 at 6:57 pm #


    What does a “king” know about AF technology? To him, “Rafale” probably translates to “that pointy/loud French airshow piece with wings.”

    There’s a lot of “it’s just”/oversimplification in petty politics, esp in context of casual, private dialogues like such. Politics hardly equals policy.

  6. puppethead 30 November, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    Matt, it usually ends up with the Chinese if it doesn’t affect Israel – in this case, Israel wants to keep its market to itself. Lavi, on the other hand, could make Israel no more profit at home, so why not sell the technology to China and get some cash out of an otherwise wasted program?

  7. hank[ster] 30 November, 2010 at 8:37 pm #

    *OOH* la la!

  8. jetcal1 1 December, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    Competition sucks, doesn’t it?

  9. Jack Pratt 2 December, 2010 at 11:39 pm #

    Yeah; the russians shouldn’t end up with the coin–it is lavi’s.

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