This is not the first time that Israel has expressed interest in purchasing the F-22 Raptor.
Jerusalem allegedly asked senior American officials to consider removing obstacles hindering the sale of F-22 fighter jets to the Israeli Air Force (IAF) to preserve its air superiority following the agreement of the US to sell the F-35s to the UAE, Israeli defense officials have confirmed.
As reported by Haaretz, Senior Israeli defense officials said a possible sale of the F-22 Raptor, the world’s most advanced fighter plane, as well as other advanced equipment to Israel was complicated by the concealment of the sale of F-35 jets to the UAE.
On Oct. 23, 2020 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s assent to the sale of F-35s to the UAE was not part of the peace agreement signed between the country and Israel in Washington last month, and that it was only provided in the course of Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s talks with the Pentagon last week.
Defense officials said the purchase by Israel of the F-22 is not currently on the table – but they did not elaborate further. Senior officials said that they would have taken advantage of the opportunity and engaged in negotiations over weapons systems to extend Israel’s military assistance agreement with the US – which currently expires in 2028 – or to draft a new and improved agreement, if the defense establishment had known that the Washington was in talks with Israel and the Emirates about the normalization of relations between the two.
According to Haaretz, the Israeli representatives raised the possibility of buying the F-22 in the latest meetings between Israeli and American defense officials.
Senior Israeli defense officials say the purchase of the world’s most advanced air superiority fighter would help preserve Israel’s quantitative military edge in the region.
“Our qualitative advantage is narrowing with respect to planes, drones, armament and air defense systems,” a senior official said in a closed meeting. “The pace of change in the Middle East is high. It’s a different Middle East from what it was in the last decade, and many countries that are not in direct conflict with Israel are investing huge sums to build some of the most advanced air forces and air defense systems in the world.”
The former commander of the Air Force’s air division, Brig. Gen. Amnon Ein Dar, who stepped down in July, wrote in the Dado Center for Interdisciplinary Military Studies’s journal “Bein Haktavim” that, “Israel’s air superiority has been under increasing threat in recent years. … […] The countries of the region are equipping themselves with an array of huge quantities of advanced forces of fighter planes and drones made in the United States, Europe, Russia and China.”
Noteworthy, this is not the first time that Israel has expressed interest in purchasing the fighter, as have other countries, but all of the foreign purchasers have been turned down. As we have previously explained, Lockheed Martin had considered an export model, for the countries that were willing to obtain the aircraft, however, at the time, Congress enacted a law (H.R.2266 – Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 1998, Sec. 8117) which prohibited “approve or license the sale of the F-22 advanced tactical fighter to any foreign government.”
The F-22 is the most advanced fighter in the world: its combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability, and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability, represents an exponential leap in warfighting capabilities. In 2011, when funding for it ended, the US shut down its F-22 production line.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force