Wednesday, July 28, 2010

F-35 - take it or leave it

By Moshe Arens

Who would have believed it? Some years ago Israel was developing the world's most advanced fighter aircraft, the Lavi, while the Western world's aircraft manufacturers were beating their way to our door, eager to participate in the Lavi project, or trying to sell their competing plane to the Israel Air Force. And now Israel goes hat in hand pleading for a chance to be allowed to acquire the F-35 aircraft, at a price tag of $150 million each. But it's not only the astronomical price. Israel is told that the F-35 must be taken as is - no changes or modifications to suit Israel's specific needs, and absolutely no Israeli systems included. Take it or leave it.

Just imagine Israel's position today had the Lavi project not been canceled. The IAF would be operating the world's most advanced fighter, upgraded over the years to incorporate operational experience and newer technology. Much of Israel's industry would have moved a great step ahead, Israel Aerospace Industries would have become a leading developer of fighter aircraft, and most importantly, a number of options would be open to the IAF in choosing its next fighter.

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