F35i Teething problems
Unfortunately for Lockheed, and Israel the F35 story still has no happy ending. The plane is over budget by tens of millions per aircraft, late, overshadowed by its more specialty capable yet now canceled big brother (F-22), and crucially for Israel - Is sealed off electronically.
Without the ability to access internal computers and replace key systems with Israeli variants, for which IAF weaponry & training are already in place it has become tough to justify outlaying so much money for stealth capability. As a result the heat is on so to speak here in Israel, and Boeing is making the big push for a huge interim win, with the F15SE..
[...] Meanwhile, Israel’s negotiations with the U.S. administration and Lockheed are expected to end with a deal early next year. For now, the gaps between the two sides are significant.
There are a number of issues in addition to the cost of the F-35, including disagreement over Israel’s request for modifications in equipping the aircraft with locally produced electronics, the plane’s relatively short range and limited bomb capacity, and the costs for establishing a separate maintenance infrastructure for the aircraft.
Another major issue is the projected delivery schedule, with 2014 being the earliest date the F-35 would arrive in Israel, and 2016 the date for the first operational squadron.
In comparison, some aspects of the Silent Eagle package make it a promising possibility. Boeing is talking about a $100 million price tag per aircraft, a significantly longer range than the F-35, and a maintenance infrastructure that could be based on the one for Israel’s F-15 fleet. Delivery may begin by 2012. [...]
The Future Is Now?
Clearly the competition is fierce for multi billion dollar contracts, my last blog about the topic generated interested visits from both companies. Both these export aircraft are new on the market and each would benefit greatly being fielded by the Israeli Air Force. Personally, I believe we may see in the end both aircraft do just that. The original tender was for a possible 75 JSF aircraft. Israel could in theory push out the JSF procurement to a later date, since arrival dates are so far out in any case and put together a squadron starting around 2018-19, or even into the next decade. By then the US would likely not waste everyone’s time with computer issues, the JSF would have seen some longer term testing, and the fighter will have been improved.
In the interim, 25 additional F15-SEs could dovetail nicely into the established maintenance, training and equipment pipeline more quickly & cheaply. We need solutions in the near term. The F35 has shorter range, and less room for weapons. These delivery dates of 2016 are eons away. When Iran went Islamic Fundamentalist, the Shah’s brand new F-16 order was canceled. Israel took over the procurement and the new F-16s first saw action taking out the Osirak Iraqi nuclear reactor a few short months later.
No Strike For You!
That does not appear to be the legacy of the F35 to share. The F35 is late to the party and under dressed, the F15 Strike Eagle will have to do the job in the near term. In that case we should order more of them. Currently, the F35 doesn’t allow us to enter crucial systems, which makes us dependent all the more on the USA – We have seen how this type of disastrous dependence can now affect our nation’s very ability to field these weapons and defend ourselves, most recently under President Obama. This is akin to buying a car from the Obama owned General Motors and he gets to keep the keys, deciding when we are allowed to drive and when not.
Today everyone is ‘Smart Shopping’
This new encroachment style is not something we should encourage, least of all in our weapons systems - stealth or no stealth. We need a fighter that has the range, and systems that can defend us from Iran. I know according to the Obama school of thought this may be sometime in 2017.. Unfortunately President Obama is wrong. Those are Israel’s needs, they are not currently focused on 2017, with limited access to systems yet! I think we should fill them today and let the JSF wait for tomorrow, pick up later short range VTOL versions in greater quantity perhaps with our longer arm strike and interceptor needs hopefully filled.
President Obama doesn’t like ‘surprises’..
(Haaretz) U.S. President Barack Obama has sent a message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding that Israel not surprise the U.S. with an Israeli military operation against Iran. The message was conveyed by a senior American official who met in Israel with Netanyahu, ministers and other senior officials. [...]
The message from the American envoy to the prime minister reveals U.S. concern that Israel could lose patience and act against Iran. It is important to the Americans that they not be caught off guard and find themselves facing facts on the ground at the last minute. [...]
Obama, the New Abraham of our age!
So this is effectively the 1st message Obama has chosen to deliver to Israel thus far. Further, by sending it along with a lone senior American official like the lone ranger mere days ahead of Netanyahu traveling to meet the US President, Obama effectively conveys a policy message as well – Don’t expect any coordination or backup from America.
If the opposite were the case, Admiral Mullen, Secretary Gates, senior American commanders, or senior US intelligence officers would be the ones conveying these messages. That omission of senior security officials & talks sends a clear message that coordination is not ongoing, nor is it welcome. To date they have refused to meet with Israel’s new government, The IDF Chief of Staff was denied meetings on his most recent trip in late March.. He cut his trip short & came home early.
Quid Pro Quo..
The American President has made a large request, his cold warning is a catch-22. No surprises, and no coordination to avert one, in effect he has tried to tie Israel’s hands from defending itself should that need arise, the new Abraham prepares Isaac up for sacrifice to the ‘Grand Bargain’ Gods.
This is what the President’s new advisers must mean by ‘smart power’ – Warning the need to be intimately involved while simultaneously bolting closed the door marked ‘involve me’, more like smart-ass power really. Those seeking the types of pressures Obama might choose to employ against us as penalty for not playing along with Palestinian concession Quid Pro Quo? - Here they are, delivered by lackey yet! As befitting the royal house of Obama, which one gathers only bows to Arabian Kings.
Israel has already made clear it intends to give President Obama some time, 3 to 4 months in order to test his ‘smart power’ appeasement strategies. But, there are warnings of our own. The ‘smart appeasement’ window isn’t open ended, time is now more precious. Maybe Obama should stop warning & start preparing, as Israel evidently is..
IAF practicing MIG-29 / F-16 dogfights
(JPOST) Israel Air Force test pilots are flying MIG 29 jets and conducting dogfights against the IAF’s F-16 fighters, Channel 2 revealed Wednesday evening.
The MIG 29, developed by the soviets in the 1970s, is one of the best fighter jets used by eastern and Arab countries, as well as by Syria and Iran. It was developed to counter American-made jets such the F-16 or F/A-18.
The jets were loaned to Israel by an unnamed foreign country. The experiment is meant to prepare IAF pilots for missions where they might have to fight a foreign air-force. “We tested them – we trained the IAF pilots against them,” an unnamed IAF official said. [...]
The IAF has according to the report also been testing the mechanics & aerodynamics of maxed up fully loaded F-16s, training & testing their performance loaded for bear with full strike packages.
(Photos from Israel Channel 2 )