Israel Wish List

Israel Wish List

Israel wish list of the $ 8 billion in American weapons it wants to buy.

On Tuesday, as the ink on a peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and a Bahrain peace declaration was drying, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented President Trump with an 8 billion “wish list.” dollars worth of weapons you’d like to buy, including stealth jets, bunker busters, and tilt-rotor planes.

American electoral politics, Trump, geography and regional rivalries underlie the Israeli leader’s request. The existence of the “shopping list” was previously reported by the right-leaning Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, and more detailed in an article by Arie Egozi in Breaking Defense. Netanyahu hopes to receive authorization for these arms sales before US Election Day on November 3. The purchases would be paid for by Israel using money in addition to the $ 38 billion in military aid that Israel will receive from the United States between 2019 and 2028. Israel has by far the most capable military in the Middle East, and it is cooperating every time. more unofficially with many Gulf states against their common enemy Iran. Indeed, that cooperation is reported to have been spurred by his opposition to the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.

The deals may give the UAE an opportunity to purchase advanced F-35 stealth fighters, which could threaten Israel’s qualitative military advantage (QME), which is apparently guaranteed by US law. Israeli officials would prefer their technical advantage to remain undisputed and have voiced their opposition to such a sale, although realistically superior tactical and operational competence plays a larger role in Israeli military dominance, not just technology. Nonetheless, Egozi writes that his Israeli sources fear that sales of F-35s to the UAE (which Trump supports) could trigger a regional arms race in which Israel wants to stay ahead, given the history of shifting alliances in the United Arab Emirates. region. Another important factor is the uncertainty about whether Trump will serve a second term in office.

Trump has steadfastly supported Israeli negotiating positions and has stopped feigning concern for Palestinian interests. Although Israel also has supporters in the Democratic Party – nine Congressional Democrats recently signed a letter supporting QME’s policy – Netanyahu took on the previous Obama administration. You may fear that a Biden administration could put limits on future arms deals by tying them into negotiations with the Palestinians or stopping the expansion of Israeli settlements. Therefore, the Israeli leader may wish to consolidate future arms sales now while perceiving favorable political terrain. But what weapons is the IDF supposedly buying and why?

Third F-35 Stealth Fighter Squadron

Israel initially signed on to purchase 50 Lockheed F-35 Lightning stealth fighters with which to equip two squadrons, and was the first country to use the F-35 in combat in 2018. The IDF already has 20 F-35s and is receiving a single F -35i Adir model adapted to be compatible with various Israeli avionics and weapons systems.

However, the Israeli government retained the option of ordering a third squad of 25 more F-35s, and apparently seeks to exercise that option now. Undoubtedly, the IAF is drawn to the F-35’s ability to penetrate airspace defended by integrated air defense systems, combined with its powerful sensors designed to connect with friendly forces. While the IAF proved long ago that it does not strictly need stealth aircraft to destroy or circumvent air defenses in neighboring countries, the F-35s would likely play a significant role if Israel tried to attack nuclear facilities deep within Iran. Not only are the tactical and logistical challenges greater, but such raids would likely require violating the airspace of several countries.

It has long been speculated that Israel may look to buy F-35B jump jets for its third squadron. Theoretically, the capacity of the jump reactors could allow continuous sorties even if Israeli runways are cratered with bombs or missiles. However, due to the higher cost and inferior performance of the F-35B, the IDF would probably prefer to acquire more conventional take-off F-35A / F-35I.

F-15EX Multi-Role Fighters?

Israel was the first country to fly the US F-15 Eagle fighter in combat and it set a remarkable record for the type, shooting down dozens of Syrian fighters in the 1980s without suffering a single loss. Currently, the IAF maintains a mixed fleet of single-seat F-15A and C, two-seat F-15B and D fighters, and 25 custom-built F-15I Ra’am attack aircraft based on the F-15E. Boeing recently began producing a more advanced F-15EX multifunction fighter for the US Air Force. These feature more fuel-efficient engines, stronger wings, superior sensors, and greater weapons capabilities. Boeing has openly indicated that it plans to focus its efforts on marketing the F-15EX in India and Israel, the latter in a modified two-seat sub-variant known as the F-15IA.

Although not stealthy, the F-15 can fly faster, farther and with a heavier bomb load than the F-35, and thus could complement it in various scenarios. Israel has reportedly requested information on the cost of acquiring 25 newly built F-15IAs, as well as updating its F-15Is or the standard F-15IA. While the Ra’am upgrade seems likely, it is unclear whether Israel can afford a squad of newly built F-15IAs and a squad of F-35s. While Israel Hayom speculates on a possible purchase of the F-15IA squad, Egozi does not mention the F-15s as part of Netanyahu’s wish list.

Expedited delivery of two Pegasus KC-46A tankers

In March 2020, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency authorized Israel to order up to eight KC-46A tankers in a $ 2.4 billion deal, with delivery scheduled for 2023 ( previously, Boeing denied Israel permission to modify 767s into tankers.) I would now like Boeing to redirect two KC-46s destined for US Air Force service so that it can receive its first Pegasus by 2021. The IAF currently owns nine modified Boeing 707 (or KC-707) tankers received between 1958 and 1982 and four Hercules KC-130H tankers. The aging fleet was briefly grounded in 2019 following an incident in which a KC-130 rolled into a ditch during an engine test.

The 767-based KC-46 is a much more modern design that can refuel multiple aircraft simultaneously and possesses more advanced self-defense capabilities. Those characteristics could matter if Israel collides with Iran, as most of its fighters would rely on refueling from tankers to traverse the hundreds of miles between Israel and Iran. However, the Pegasus service entrance has been marred by numerous scandalous flaws, most notably in the remote display system an operator uses to guide the refueling arm to mate with the receiver of a friendly plane. Boeing and the Air Force have come up with a fix for the faulty display system, but it will be several more years before it is ready.

Twelve V-22 Osprey Tilt-Rotor aircraft

While Israel’s airborne and special forces units are renowned for their prowess, the IDF faces significant logistical challenges in deploying them further afield. While helicopters have an unmatched ability to station troops in restricted terrain, they are severely limited in speed, range, and altitude compared to airplanes. The Boeing-Bell V-22 Osprey is a tilt-rotor that can switch between helicopter and airplane configurations.

That means you can offer the best of both types of aircraft, albeit at a higher price, maintenance requirements and accident rates. Israel has pondered the V-22 acquisition over and over again over the past decade. In 2014, the US authorized the sale of six V-22s for $ 1.13 billion, but in February 2020 it was reported that an Osprey purchase had been frozen until funds were available. Apparently, those resources may have finally arrived. Israel has already passed on desired improvements to the Osprey’s fuel tanks and avionics package to Boeing-Bell. With the V-22s, the IDF could deploy its special forces units more flexibly over longer distances.

Replace old Apaches with new ones

The IAF currently operates 48 AH-64 Apaches, a heavily armed and armored attack helicopter. Although the Apache was designed to devastate Soviet tank battalions, Israel pioneered controversial tactics to use its precision-guided anti-tank missiles to assassinate a succession of Hamas leaders. 26 of Israel’s Apaches are relatively primitive AH-64A-model helicopters acquired in 1990, serving in the 190th “Magic Touch” squad at Ramon Air Base. In contrast, 113 Squadron “Hornet” flies 22 AH-64D Apache Longbows incorporating digital avionics and the ability to mount a powerful surface-scanning Longbow radar on top of the rotor. This allows the crew to “soar” above trees and hills and launch attacks without exposing the helicopter’s fuselage.

The IDF plans to retire the AH-64As by 2025 according to Egozi. Presumably, a replacement could come in the form of longbows retired from the US military or newly built AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters that feature improved engines and flight performance, as well as advanced drone and location control technologies. of flashes. The Obama administration denied Israeli requests for additional AH-64Ds, reportedly due to concerns that Israeli Apaches had caused civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip. The Trump administration is unlikely to raise such objections, so Israel may seek to push for authorization to buy now.

Bunker busting bombs and a satellite

Egozi also writes that an “advanced communications satellite” is on Israel’s wish list, but does not offer further details. In a less obscure way, Netanyahu is seeking many more bunker-busting bombs so that the IDF can threaten Iran’s fortified underground missile and nuclear facilities. To that end, beginning in 2005, Israel began purchasing 5,000-pound GBU-28 laser-guided bombs from the United States that can penetrate up to 50 meters of ground and 5 meters of concrete. It has also received many 206 pound (1 meter concrete + 1 meter ground) small diameter GBU-39 II bombs and 1,927 pound BLU-109 (1.2-1.8 meters concrete penetration) bombs with kits. of JDAM guide.

Israel has also nationally developed its own munitions capable of destroying bunkers, such as the Rampage missile and the SPICE bomb. However, these smaller munitions can be ineffective compared to heavily fortified Iranian installations. US officials do not universally support Israel with more bunker busters for fear it could embolden Israel to unilaterally attack Iran. Israeli defense officials are also divided on whether the United States would provide Israel with the necessary ammunition if the IDF unilaterally launched a pre-emptive strike. Thus, Netanyahu is apparently looking to acquire more bombs now, when he is unlikely to face scruples from the US executive branch.

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