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Friday, May 08, 2009

F-35 purchases held up over computer access

I have discussed the purchase by Israel from the United States of the stealth-enabled F-35 fighter jet, most recently here. In that post, I noted that the United States was refusing to let Israel install its own technologies in the jets. With the cancellation of the F-22 Raptor program by the Obama administration, Israel has felt a greater need than previously to purchase the F-35. This morning, JPost is reporting that the F-35 purchases are being held up again, this time over Israel's request to be granted access to the plane's internal computer mainframe. As a result, Israel may choose to upgrade existing F-15's instead.
The Americans are concerned that by allowing Israel to independently repair the computers, the Israel Air Force will get its hands on the classified technology that was used to make the plane.

Israel, on the other hand, has argued that due to its operational requirements it needs to have the ability to repair damaged or broken computer systems in "real time" and cannot wait for a computer system to be sent to the US for repairs in the middle of a war.

The Americans have told Israel it will receive a number of spare computer systems that it could install in place of a damaged system but would still have to send the damaged system to the US for repairs.

"This is the core of the disagreements right now," explained one senior defense official. "We have major operational constraints and need to have the ability to repair the systems on our own."
The F-15 does not sound like a bad option, but it's definitely not the best:
Due to the disagreements regarding the computer, as well as American opposition to the integration of Israeli systems into the plane and its overall soaring cost - now reaching $100 million - the Defense Ministry has recently asked Boeing for details on the new and advanced model of the F-15 Eagle, which is claimed to have enhanced stealth capabilities.

There is also an option to upgrade existing F-15s to the Silent Eagle model at a much lower cost.
The problem is that the F-15SE (the Silent Eagle model) has a stealth capability against airborne radar, but not against ground installations. Guess which one the Russian S-300 that Iran plans to buy is....

Uh, huh.

Am I the only one with the nagging feeling that this would be much easier were George W. Bush still in power? Then again, if Bush were in power, the F-22 would not have been canceled.

Hope and change anyone? Sounds like more change than hope to me.


At 1:22 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Tell that to the geniuses who forced the cancellation of the Lavi. Had it been built, computer access wouldn't even be in question. An Israeli-built next generation fighter plane would changed everything for the better.

At 3:24 PM, Blogger Andre (Canada) said...

Yep, countres seem to be making the same mistakes over and over.
In the 60's, Canada producd the best fighter inthe world (the Avro Arrow) and it was cancelled at the last minute before large scale production began (they even dumped the lat prototypes in the lake so no one could get to them). Then Canada became dependent on the US for its fighter jets and we are running old F-16s.
Israel did the same with the Lavi. Now, it is at the mercy of a guy whose middle name is Hussein and who is bent on weakening Israel (if not destroying it).
Maybe it is just me, but I still believe that Sharon was NOT the great Prime Minister that everyone says he was. He messed up and his designated successor, Olmert, was, without a doubt, Israel's worst Prime Minister ever.
Not a great record, I think!

At 9:59 PM, Blogger M Brueschke said...

The Lavi wouldn't have helped, it was simply a local mod of the F-16 like the Kfir was a mod of the Mirage.

There have been other countries in the F-35 program who have complained about access to the F-35 computers, during Clinton, Bush 43 and now Obama. The stealth aspect of the F-15SE is overrated vs the S-300 because all Israel needs to do is use stand-off weapons or UAVs to known out the S-300 radar and then flood the Iranians.

For Israel, I'd say go with upgrading the F-15s they have, punch money into longer range stand-off munitions like being able to air launch the Popeye Turbo and if they really need a new fighter, buy Rafale, the Gripen or the Typhoon.

At 10:01 PM, Blogger M Brueschke said...

And Andre, Canada flies the F-18, and an version that's been upgraded twice because they won't pony up the money to upgrade


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