Cabinet wants massive US-Israel aircraft deal

A multibillion-dollar arms deal between the Defense Department and the United States for new fighter jets, tankers and helicopters received preliminary approval from the security cabinet on Sunday.

The move ends a three-year dispute between the Defense Ministry and the Finance Ministry over how to pay for the deal.

The security cabinet preferred the scheme proposed by the Ministry of Defense to that proposed by the Ministry of Finance. The Minister of Defense requested to receive a foreign loan for the supply.

In October, finance ministry legal adviser Avi Mesing – who opposed the plan – wrote to Deputy Attorney General Meir Levin, citing legal issues with moving the deal forward.

According to a Walla News report, Mesing criticized the Defense Ministry for trying to establish a “parallel mechanism” that would have allowed him to receive a loan and bypass the spending limit set by law. .

The deal includes the purchase of four Boeing KC-46a air-refueling tankers to replace Israel’s aging Re’em fleet, converted Boeing 707s.

Last March, the US State Department approved the possible sale of up to eight KC-46 aircraft and related equipment to Israel at an estimated cost of $ 2.4 billion, marking the first time Washington has allowed Jerusalem to purchase new tankers.
The deal also includes new heavy-duty transport helicopters, in which the IAF will have to choose between Boeing’s Chinook model and Lockheed-Martin’s Sikorsky CH-53K. According to sources, the deal also includes the exercise of the option of another F-35 squadron and, in addition, the F-15ex, the newest fighter jet in the US Air Force.

Security sources said the IAF was inclined to prefer the CH53K over the Chinook.

However, Defense Minister Benny Gantz asked to include the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey in the deal. This aircraft has the vertical take-off capability and the speed of an airplane. It can be used to transfer elite units and protect Israel’s gas platforms. The addition of this expensive aircraft could result in a reduction in the number of heavy lift helicopters that will be purchased.

Despite the disagreements, an IDF source said Jerusalem post that the military and the defense ministry will come to an agreed solution before the next step.

However, the final details of the deal are unclear and have not yet been made public.

The Defense Ministry declined to release details of the plan’s approval.

After approval, the IAF should make its recommendations regarding its needs and preferences. Then, it must be reviewed by the Ministry of Defense and its Director General, and must be submitted for final approval to the Ministerial Committee on Public Procurement.

The plane deal is only part of a comprehensive procurement plan for the IDF and Israel’s security establishment.

The approved scheme is consistent with the IDF multi-year procurement plan and its dollar-funded aspect.

The plan included the purchase of items for several branches of the IDF.

For example, in the Land Forces it includes the purchase of the Eitan armored fighting vehicle and various types of new ammunition.

In the intelligence and communications aspects, it includes the purchase of new advanced software, hardware and computers intended to maintain the IDF’s cyber superiority and will complete its digital transformation.

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