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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Could Israel yet get the F-22?

You may recall that Israel long coveted the F-22 Raptor jet (pictured). Israel's hopes of acquiring the plane were seemingly dashed when the Obama administration canceled the F-22 program.

Now, thanks to the North Korean nuclear threat, the program may be revived to allow Japan to buy the F-22, and Israel may be allowed to tag along.
Japan has long hoped that Congress would OK its purchase of a few F-22's for its own use. Seems there's this crazy kid in the neighborhood -- Kim Jong something-or-other -- who keeps blowing up nuclear warheads and lobbing ICBMs into the waters around Japan. Naturally, Japan feels nervous and wants a bit of extra protection. (I'm guessing Godzilla is unavailable.)

In fact, Japan would like to buy four or five dozen F-22s. And unless my calculator's on the fritz, that could work out to as much as $11.5 billion in additional revenue for Lockheed & Co. -- enough to replace the yet-unspent funds from Marine One, and then some.

The problems posed by a nuclear North Korea, combined with a willing buyer and strong ally in Japan, could be just the motivation Congress needs to keep the F-22 alive for a while yet. (According to Reuters, Senate defense subcommittee chairman Daniel Inouye is pushing to do just that.) If Congress can find a spare billion or two to buy a handful of extra F-22s, keeping production running until a Japanese sale is authorized, that might be just the ticket to replace Lockheed's lost Marine One revenues.

And if Japan gets the greenlight to buy F-22s, then why not Israel, too? Or Australia? Or even India?
Why not indeed?

Inouye, by the way, is a Hawaii democrat with a long history of supporting Israel. I recall hearing him speak at a pro-Israel event when I was in college in the late '70's.


At 4:56 PM, Blogger LB said...

As much as I dislike the current nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship, Israel purchasing (as in not a gift/bribe) the F-22s would be huge.

At 7:09 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

It would have been better had Israeli built the Lavi - as it is too little too late. Even when the planes are finally delivered, Iran will be a nuclear power by the time the IAF has them. I hope Israel has other options to deal with Iran's nuclear threat in the meantime.


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