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  #1  
Old 11-02-2009, 10:57 AM
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Default Israel Mulling Delays in F-35 Deliveries

Sorry - so far the story is only available on the Hebrew language version of Ynet:
http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3798514,00.html
I'll add a link to an English language version when and if it becomes available.

Essentially, the story runs as follows:

As many of us are aware, the IDF had previously expressed an interest in obtaining the F-35 as quickly as possible to help ensure Israel's qualitative edge. They were looking at a service introduction date of 2014 (and some sources claimed as soon as 2013). The previous, Bush Administration was also willing to allow Israel early access to the airplane, ahead of US NATO allies and Japan.

Negotiations, however, became bogged down over two issues: the installation of Israeli electronics gear; and price. The US has been unwilling to allow Israel access to some of the source code necessary to fully integrate Israeli electronics into the F-35, afraid that US "secrets" would be revealed in the process. The Israelis were eventually able to persuade the Pentagon that Israeli aircraft should be equipped with Israeli communications gear, and should be able to handle Israeli air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions. However, the Pentagon had not yet been persuaded to allow the IDF to install an Israeli ECM suite - which would have given the Israelis the ability to customize their electronic countermeasures to respond to emerging threats without US assistance. They also wanted to charge the IDF more than double the learned-out production cost for the delivery of these early aircraft - even with minimal modifications to allow the incorporation of Israeli weapons and communications gear.

What this latest article suggests, is that the IDF has consequently decided that without the ability to customize the F-35 to meet their needs, the priority for obtaining the aircraft is lower. They are now evaluating deals for the delivery of aircraft in 2016, rather than 2014, with an eye towards obtaining a lower purchase price, and towards settling the outstanding issues that divide Israeli and Pentagon planners.
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Old 11-02-2009, 12:14 PM
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Default what a pity

that Israel gave up the development of the Lavi.
The dependence of US aid could turn to a stumbling block for Israel in the future.
Israel can rely only on G-d and itself.
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Old 11-02-2009, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by betgilson View Post
that Israel gave up the development of the Lavi.
The dependence of US aid could turn to a stumbling block for Israel in the future.
Israel can rely only on G-d and itself.
The development of the Lavi and its projected manufacturing depended on US anyway.
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Old 11-03-2009, 06:56 AM
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Default the major

problem was money.
USA wanted at that time to know from Israel what kind of avionics would be built/used or installed on the Lavi.
Israel rejected to inform the USA about these special avionics.
The engine would be most probably GE, the same used on the F16 but I insist to believe that Israel is able to carry on in everything it wants to build or produce or develop, if the country just had the extra billions of dollars that are needed.

So, it was better and cheaper to buy F16īs and F15īs of the last generation than investing billions on an indigineous plane.
(Note, Israel does buy the planes with US money or Israel just order the planes and the US Government pays the bill- the aid-budget was 10 billions a year, right? it has been changed recently due to recent international/US financial crisis)
But the time will come in that Israel will be forsaken from the USA and for such scenario would be better for Israel to produce fighters on its own.
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Old 11-03-2009, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by betgilson View Post
The engine would be most probably GE, the same used on the F16
The Lavi used a PW1120 engine, a smaller derivative of the F100-PW-100/200/220 engines that equiped Israel's F-15s and F-16s during the early 1980s. The GE F110 was not even on the drawing board when the Lavi was under development, and GE's F404 (which equiped the F/A-18A/B Hornet at that time) was deemed to be too small.

I could add that over the decades Israel has flown both GE and Pratt & Whitney engines in its F-16 fleet - but for the most recent batch of deliveries selected the F100-PW-229 to equip the F-16I.

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Originally Posted by betgilson View Post
problem was money.
Yes . . . after a fashion. When the Lavi program was originally in the planning stages, Israel's defense budget was still bloated from the post-Yom Kippur War defense build-up. At that time, the Israeli air force was planning on the purchase of at least 300 Lavi fighters. On a production volume of that magnitude, the Lavi made economic sense. The defense spending of the late 1970s and early 80s was not sustainable, however. After a series of defense budget cuts, the Israeli air force was left with roughly half of the annual purchasing power that they had planned on. And on a production run of 150 or so aircraft, the Lavi was no longer economically competitive with the F-16.

If Israel had wanted to preserve the Lavi, they needed to find a US partner (most likely Grumman, which produced the wings and vertical tail), and then heavily market the airplane to the USAF as a weapon optimized for the strike role. If they could have won a production contract with the USAF (and that is a big if), for even a few hundred airframes (to replace perhaps the A-7s that were then being phased out of the US inventory), the unit cost could have been brought under control. Other than the US, there were no other export customers with the resources to purchase the 150 or more additional airframes needed to bring the Lavi unit costs back under control.

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Originally Posted by betgilson View Post
USA wanted at that time to know from Israel what kind of avionics would be built/used or installed on the Lavi.
That was a Weinberger thing. The Defense Secretary always had it in for Israel, but he did not speak for the entire administration. I would maintain that if Israel had had a Defense Minister that was a strong proponent of the Lavi, who had the right political connections in the US (if Moshe Arens had been Defense Minister instead of Yitzhak Rabin), Weinberger could have been out-maneuvered from within his own administration. Arens knew how to recruit supporters for Israel's cause, and did so successfully earlier in the Lavi program. Rabin had neither the political savvy when it came to the US scene, nor the motivation to head off Weinberger's push to kill the program.

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But the time will come in that Israel will be forsaken from the USA and for such scenario would be better for Israel to produce fighters on its own.
Unfortunately, I have to agree with you here. Israel needs to continue to maintain a defense industry that can meet Israel's unique weapons requirements. I fear that there will be another Obama, or another Carter Administration still to come. That does not mean that Israel should strive to produce all of the weapons that they currently import. US military aid to Israel frees up the Israeli government to continue to grow the national economy, and to develop specialized sensors and weapons that give Israeli warfighters an edge. But I would agree that in the long term, Israel's leadership needs to prepare a Plan B.
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Old 11-03-2009, 12:46 PM
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Default BIBI is clever

Quote:
But I would agree that in the long term, Israel's leadership needs to prepare a Plan B.
Bibi is clever. I trust that he will lead the country in a proper way, he is already doing that. A hard task.
Thatīs not fair when a small country has to defend itself against the whole World.
But itīs ok.
Gideon also won with only 300. The history repeats.
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  #7  
Old 11-04-2009, 03:38 AM
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Lockheed has sent its Senior Vice President for Strategy & Business Development, Bob Trice to Israel this week, to meet with Israeli officials in a bid to convince them to sign a contract for the F-35 sooner rather than later.
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satelli...cle%2FShowFull

Lockheed is reportedly concerned that if Israel backs-out on an early buy of the new airplane, other foreign customers will likely follow suite.
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Old 11-04-2009, 11:59 AM
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It would appear that Lockheed Martin has very good reason to be concerned that Israel (and others) might delay their initial purchase of F-35 fighters.

Australia's Defense Management Organization chief Stephen Gumley has reportedly revealed that proposals for European and Australia partner nations to purchase an initial batch of F-35 fighters under a collective, 5-year plan have fallen through.
http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs...entId=blogDest

The group-buy was proposed as an option to level the cost of the aircraft across the five-year period, allowing the partners to purchase a portion of their fighters early - but at a reduced up-front cost. As a consequence of the collapse of these talks, some analysts now predict that many of the partner nations will delay their JSF purchases by two years or more, until the US production volume is sufficient to drive down the unit cost to a more palatable level for smaller, single-year purchase plans.

All of this makes for a very interesting dynamic. The Europeans have no reason to rush their deliveries of the F-35, and very good reasons (revolving around cost) to delay them. Europe, after all, is not at war. Israel, on the other hand, would very much like to have their F-35s delivered early. But not at any price, and not without incorporating all of the additional electronics gear that the Heyl haAvir needs to do its job.
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Old 11-05-2009, 10:15 AM
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very interesting....
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  #10  
Old 11-05-2009, 06:45 PM
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Default Israel

will end ordering more F15s E while it wait for a more affordable price.
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  #11  
Old 11-10-2009, 11:14 PM
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Most advanced, expensive fighter jet headed to Israel

By Amos Harel, Haaretz

Last update - 05:30 10/11/2009

The largest defense deal in Israeli history, for the purchase of the F-35 stealth fighter aircraft, is advancing, slowly but surely.

The rounds of talks among the defense establishment, the Pentagon and manufacturer Lockheed-Martin have significantly narrowed the gaps between the parties.

The United States is scheduled to respond next week to Israel's express request for 25 of the jets.

Jerusalem is to reach a final decision by early 2010, and there's a good chance a deal will be signed by the middle of the year.

Assuming Lockheed maintains its original production timetable the first fighters will be delivered in 2014.

Two years later, Israel will have its first operational squadron of F-35s, consisting of 25 fighter aircraft representing the cutting edge of U.S. technology (Israel's too, it is hoped), capable of any mission. Iran too?

Ready for Iran, if they stay still

Of course, assuming that Iran's nuclear installations are still waiting there by the time Israel has the appropriate aircraft.

Of course, this is one of the main questions surrounding the deal. When discussions began on the procurement of the F-35 it was clear that it was necessary if Israel was to have a response to the Iranian threat.

This is the main argument for buying the aircraft, especially in light of the fact that it now seems likely that Tehran will eventually the S-300 advanced air defense system from Russia, making stealth capability all the more important for Israeli fighters.

In the meantime, however, the timetables have diverged: Unless stopped, Iran's nuclear program may reach maturation within two years, but the delivery date for the F-35 is still far away. Some senior Israeli army officers are citing this in their call to delay the purchase.

They argue that it will use up most of the U.S. military aid to Israel without being on hand when needed.

They say urgent projects for the land forces should be advanced instead, and the remaining funds invested in the navy and in refurbishing older aircraft.

The Americans, in their discussions, raised two problems with this option: A delay would prevent Israeli defense industries from getting involved in the project at an early stage and earning money from the sale of systems incorporated into the F-35.

And if Israel delays its order then other countries will move up on the list for deliveries, and there will be no guarantee that it will receive delivery according to its timetable - even if that is in 2016. One concern is that by then other countries in the Middle East will also begin acquiring the aircraft.

Cutting the specialized Israeli suite

In the meantime, the Americans have eased their stance on Israel's request to include locally made electronics systems. A major issue in this would be the cost of the specialized "suite" Israel would like to develop for its order of F-35s.

This makes the aircraft more expensive, but much of the price also depends on the volume. For example, if the price of 25 aircraft, including many other components, comes to $130 million each, then an order of 75 may lower the per-unit price to $100 million.

The head of the Planning Directorate of the Israel Defense Forces, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, told Haaretz in September that in any event the cost of a single aircraft is expected to be much lower than $130 million, which he described as "exaggerated."

The decision on this acquisition is one of the most important for the budgets of both the state and the IDF, as well as the future shape of the military.

As in the past, it will be made by a limited group of people, with limited transparency, little control by civilians and without public debate.

The government has not really dealt with the issue and it is doubtful whether it will do so in the future.

These matters are usually agreed upon among the IDF chief of staff, the Israel Air Force commander, the defense minister and the director general of the defense ministry.
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Old 11-11-2009, 03:13 AM
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Press reports appear to suggest that Israel's arms manufacturers are growing increasingly concerned that the IDF leadership is willing to sacrifice many of their earlier demands for incorporating Israeli-made systems into Israel's F-35 aircraft - in return for price concessions.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1127037.html

If such reports prove to be true, it would be a costly mistake for Israel's armed forces. The United States is not about to help Israel incorporate US-developed countermeasures into Israeli F-35's that are aimed at defeating the US-supplied weapons in the inventories of Jordan, Saudi Arabia or other Arab states. If the Israelis accept the as-is, US-developed electronic warfare suite, Israel's armed forces will be on a tether - unable to use these weapons against Iran or other regional foes without express permission from Washington. Yes, cost is important. But not as important as preserving Israel's ability to defend herself.

The US wouldn't take the steps needed in Iraq in July 1981, and they wouldn't risk a war with Syria in September 2007. On both occasions, Israel's armed forces had to take the necessary (and sometimes unpopular) steps to eliminate a clear and present danger. Israel's freedom of maneuver is essential. It would be better to stop the negotiations with the Americans now - and tell them to supply the airframes and engines with NO avionics - and develop an all-new avionics suite from the ground-up in Israel, than to accept the pre-packaged, as-is avionics suite that Washington is trying to pedal (strings and all).
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Old 11-11-2009, 07:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haamimhagolan View Post
Press reports appear to suggest that Israel's arms manufacturers are growing increasingly concerned that the IDF leadership is willing to sacrifice many of their earlier demands for incorporating Israeli-made systems into Israel's F-35 aircraft - in return for price concessions.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1127037.html

If such reports prove to be true, it would be a costly mistake for Israel's armed forces. The United States is not about to help Israel incorporate US-developed countermeasures into Israeli F-35's that are aimed at defeating the US-supplied weapons in the inventories of Jordan, Saudi Arabia or other Arab states. If the Israelis accept the as-is, US-developed electronic warfare suite, Israel's armed forces will be on a tether - unable to use these weapons against Iran or other regional foes without express permission from Washington. Yes, cost is important. But not as important as preserving Israel's ability to defend herself.

The US wouldn't take the steps needed in Iraq in July 1981, and they wouldn't risk a war with Syria in September 2007. On both occasions, Israel's armed forces had to take the necessary (and sometimes unpopular) steps to eliminate a clear and present danger. Israel's freedom of maneuver is essential. It would be better to stop the negotiations with the Americans now - and tell them to supply the airframes and engines with NO avionics - and develop an all-new avionics suite from the ground-up in Israel, than to accept the pre-packaged, as-is avionics suite that Washington is trying to pedal (strings and all).
I wish someone for once tells the IAF to got do something to themselves (you know what) and work with that they have (they have more than most). They were the reason no LORA missiles were not purchased, because like the mafia they feared it might infringe on their "territory".
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Old 11-14-2009, 11:49 AM
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I wish someone for once tells the IAF to got do something to themselves (you know what) and work with that they have (they have more than most). They were the reason no LORA missiles were not purchased, because like the mafia they feared it might infringe on their "territory".
I do sympathize with your concerns over how much all of these systems cost. Yes, aircraft are expensive. The air force, however, is also the only branch of Israel's armed forces with the necessary reach to take out Iraq's Osirak reactor in July 1981, or Syria's reactor in September 2007. The LORA (LOng Range Attack), in contrast, has a range of only 250 km (150 miles).

What I suspect will happen is the IDF will be making a decision within the next several months regarding whether they want to wait on an F-35 purchase - and put their resources into new naval assets - or purchase the F-35 sooner and purchase the desired warships at a later date. It is likely to be one or the other.

Last edited by haamimhagolan; 11-14-2009 at 11:56 AM..
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Old 11-14-2009, 11:55 AM
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Another report indicating that Israel's arms industries are campaigning for a larger share of Israel's F-35 production contract.
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satelli...cle%2FShowFull

Reportedly Israel will be receiving new pricing information from the Pentagon by the end of the year.

Personally, I am less concerned about where the hardware comes from, than I am about what it can or cannot do. Relying on US suppliers for the electronic warfare suite will put a tether on Israel's abilitities to cross Saudi Arabia or Iraq to strike Iranian targets. Israel cannot live with that tether.

The F-35s are not likely to arrive in time to affect Israel's ability to strike Iran before Iran goes nuclear. Unless something changes in the Pentagon's willingness to accept Israeli-developed ECM and weapons systems aboard the F-35, they would be better off delaying the purchase to negotiate for a better price and better terms. Buying early and paying a higher price - without meeting Israel's needs to control their own EW, targeting and weapons systems destiny - would be getting the worst of both worlds.
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Old 11-15-2009, 01:32 AM
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Originally Posted by haamimhagolan View Post
I do sympathize with your concerns over how much all of these systems cost. Yes, aircraft are expensive. The air force, however, is also the only branch of Israel's armed forces with the necessary reach to take out Iraq's Osirak reactor in July 1981, or Syria's reactor in September 2007. The LORA (LOng Range Attack), in contrast, has a range of only 250 km (150 miles).

What I suspect will happen is the IDF will be making a decision within the next several months regarding whether they want to wait on an F-35 purchase - and put their resources into new naval assets - or purchase the F-35 sooner and purchase the desired warships at a later date. It is likely to be one or the other.
The IAF lobbied against LORA, also the 250-300 km is for export purposes, just like the advertised limit of the Russian Iskander of 250-300km. There are regulations for missile exports and while Israel is not a signatory, it still likes oblige when possible. Israel is a small country with few relatively few runways, if those are taken out (with scuds no less), all those fancy planes will be worthless. So against Syria, LORA would be very helpful as a contingency measure. Against Iran, Israel does posses ballistic missiles, the IAF would have a difficult time doing much anyway now that turkey (air space) is an Iranian ally and the US would be reluctant to let Iraqi airspace be used. The F-35 will be too late for any strike anyway, I suspect even if we order now, most will only arrive by 2016-2020 or so, with the usual delays.

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Old 11-15-2009, 03:40 PM
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There are regulations for missile exports and while Israel is not a signatory, it still likes oblige when possible.

This is due to understandings that Israel has with the US, and has been in place for decades. Ballistic missiles, and ballistic missile technology is one thing that the Israeli government knows cannot be exported without running afoul of US obligations. Besides, it would be very difficult to complain about the export of ballistic missile technology to Iran if Israel was also exporting that same technology elsewhere.

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Israel is a small country with few relatively few runways, if those are taken out (with scuds no less), all those fancy planes will be worthless.

Scud missiles have next to zero accuracy. Far less than a well aimed artillery shell. They are useful for terrorizing civilian populations, but not for striking hardened military targets. The Syrians do have a collection of around 36 SS-21 (OTR-21) ballistic missiles that reportedly bring their circular error probability (CEP) down to less than 100 m - which is another reason that Israel needs a multilayer, ballistic missile defense program. The range of the SS-21, however, is barely over 100 miles (160 km) - even in the more advanced versions that have not yet been deployed by Syria. This places Israel's air bases in the Negev beyond the practical reach of Syria's few "precision" surface-to-surface weapons.

You should also bear in mind that air bases drill on runway repairs. Even if the Syrians scored a lucky shot on an airbase that was within their tactical missile range, the runways would be repaired in short order. Unless someone parks their aircraft in the open so that their opponents can pick them off with air-to-ground straffing runs (which everyone has known not to do since June 1967), you need to score a direct hit to destroy the individual airplanes within each hardened shelter. Shutting down an air base would require a lot more ordnance on target than the Syrians have in their order of battle.

The reason that aircraft are so invaluable is due to a combination of both their range, and cost - compared to the alternative means available. A missile like the SS-21 carries a warhead of 1,000-lb. An F-16I, on the other hand, can easily carry two 2,000-lb bombs on a long range, deep strike mission - and then return to do it again. What could be accomplished by a flight of eight F-16I's would require 16 ballistic missiles to perform. There is no nation that can afford enough surface-to-surface missiles to strike all of the targets that they might want to hit in a wartime scenario. It's simply cost prohibitive. The two weapons can compliment each other, but the missiles cannot replace the role of the aircraft.

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Originally Posted by HideNSeek View Post
The F-35 will be too late for any strike anyway, I suspect even if we order now, most will only arrive by 2016-2020 or so, with the usual delays.

Fundamentally, I agree that Israel should delay its initial F-35 buy if the Pentagon cannot come to terms with what Israel's tactical needs are. Israel needs to have the operational flexibility to align its weapons systems with a changing battlefield - and not be beholden to Washington to approve every operational decision. Moreover, even with a 2014 delivery date (the soonest that deliveries might occur), the aircraft would arrive too late to alter the outcome of a confrontation over Iran's nuclear weapons plants. Value and capabilities are more important for Israel's air force than having the newest weapon at the earliest possible date.
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Old 11-15-2009, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by haamimhagolan View Post
This is due to understandings that Israel has with the US, and has been in place for decades. Ballistic missiles, and ballistic missile technology is one thing that the Israeli government knows cannot be exported without running afoul of US obligations. Besides, it would be very difficult to complain about the export of ballistic missile technology to Iran if Israel was also exporting that same technology elsewhere.


Scud missiles have next to zero accuracy. Far less than a well aimed artillery shell. They are useful for terrorizing civilian populations, but not for striking hardened military targets. The Syrians do have a collection of around 36 SS-21 (OTR-21) ballistic missiles that reportedly bring their circular error probability (CEP) down to less than 100 m - which is another reason that Israel needs a multilayer, ballistic missile defense program. The range of the SS-21, however, is barely over 100 miles (160 km) - even in the more advanced versions that have not yet been deployed by Syria. This places Israel's air bases in the Negev beyond the practical reach of Syria's few "precision" surface-to-surface weapons.

You should also bear in mind that air bases drill on runway repairs. Even if the Syrians scored a lucky shot on an airbase that was within their tactical missile range, the runways would be repaired in short order. Unless someone parks their aircraft in the open so that their opponents can pick them off with air-to-ground straffing runs (which everyone has known not to do since June 1967), you need to score a direct hit to destroy the individual airplanes within each hardened shelter. Shutting down an air base would require a lot more ordnance on target than the Syrians have in their order of battle.

The reason that aircraft are so invaluable is due to a combination of both their range, and cost - compared to the alternative means available. A missile like the SS-21 carries a warhead of 1,000-lb. An F-16I, on the other hand, can easily carry two 2,000-lb bombs on a long range, deep strike mission - and then return to do it again. What could be accomplished by a flight of eight F-16I's would require 16 ballistic missiles to perform. There is no nation that can afford enough surface-to-surface missiles to strike all of the targets that they might want to hit in a wartime scenario. It's simply cost prohibitive. The two weapons can compliment each other, but the missiles cannot replace the role of the aircraft.


Fundamentally, I agree that Israel should delay its initial F-35 buy if the Pentagon cannot come to terms with what Israel's tactical needs are. Israel needs to have the operational flexibility to align its weapons systems with a changing battlefield - and not be beholden to Washington to approve every operational decision. Moreover, even with a 2014 delivery date (the soonest that deliveries might occur), the aircraft would arrive too late to alter the outcome of a confrontation over Iran's nuclear weapons plants. Value and capabilities are more important for Israel's air force than having the newest weapon at the earliest possible date.
Well, you don't need a lot of accuracy, Israel is a small country, if they volley thousands upon thousands of unguided rockets with sufficient range, they will cause problems for the IAF even with air defense systems, there was a reason why the IAF was interested in the F-35B.
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Old 11-16-2009, 01:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haamimhagolan View Post
Scud missiles have next to zero accuracy. Far less than a well aimed artillery shell. They are useful for terrorizing civilian populations, but not for striking hardened military targets. The Syrians do have a collection of around 36 SS-21 (OTR-21) ballistic missiles that reportedly bring their circular error probability (CEP) down to less than 100 m - which is another reason that Israel needs a multilayer, ballistic missile defense program. The range of the SS-21, however, is barely over 100 miles (160 km) - even in the more advanced versions that have not yet been deployed by Syria. This places Israel's air bases in the Negev beyond the practical reach of Syria's few "precision" surface-to-surface weapons.

You should also bear in mind that air bases drill on runway repairs. Even if the Syrians scored a lucky shot on an airbase that was within their tactical missile range, the runways would be repaired in short order. Unless someone parks their aircraft in the open so that their opponents can pick them off with air-to-ground straffing runs (which everyone has known not to do since June 1967), you need to score a direct hit to destroy the individual airplanes within each hardened shelter. Shutting down an air base would require a lot more ordnance on target than the Syrians have in their order of battle.
Shutting down an airbase for extended periods of time is difficult. But reducing its sortie rate is a doable thing. A combination of rocket or missile delivered conventional submunitions and rocket or missile delivered chemical submunitions is within the capability of Syria, and probably Hezbollah also. Repairing runway damage and disposing of unexploded submunitions in a chemical environment will tax the personnel of any airbase.

And while the bases in the Negev might not be within range, Ramat David certainly is, as are Hatzor and Tel Nof.

I'm not sure this truly tips the balance in favor of LORA, but do worry that Air Forces have too much bias in favor of manned aircraft to properly evaluate the alternatives.
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Old 11-16-2009, 03:08 AM
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The thing I can't understand is the continuos placing of multiple capability into less and less aircraft at exorbitant cost per plane.

With the lost one plane and you lose a large part of your overall capability, and no redundancy form other airframes.

With a Fly away cost of $83+million dollars U.S. that is a hell of a loss, and then there is always training accidents.

But the thing that gets me is the loss of capability in multi roll aircraft, you just don't lose a air superiority fighter, you lose a bomber, AAA, SAM, suppression platform, and a ground support asset, and a reconnaissance platform, all in one one multi roll airframe.

Seems to me that the money could be better spent on several airframes so you don't lose a major portion of you capabilities to minor losses.
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