In the "news" section, someone has just suggested that the best way to help Israel is for the US to give us their new F22 Raptor fighter jets. Yet it appears to me that we have no real need for more fighter jets. Part of the reasons are listed in the article I am about to post below, but there are also other factors that I will mention.
[url=http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3166524,00.html]F-35 or M.R.I.?
Does Israel really need another 100 fighter planes?
The end of the crisis with the United States over Israel's defense equipment exports, and Israel's return to the group of countries developing the F-35 fighter jet (also known as the Joint Strike Fighter) is a welcome, important development.
Even more than the necessary security cooperation with the United States, the project holds economic and scientific importance for Israel involvement in this project.
But along side this development, announced during Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz's visit to Washington last weekend, was another, no less important development.
Sources close to Mofaz said Israel is interested in obtaining about 100 F-35s when development is completed, some ten years from now. The announcement was almost "by-the-way", and there has been no public debate about a crucial economic and security development.
The F-35 will be a war plane, whose main use will be to attack land-based targets. It will replace several planes in the American arsenal, most importantly for Israel the F-16.
But it bears reminding that our air force is currently in the process of integrating new F-16 fighter planes, purchased not long ago for about 4 billion dollars.
More than a few senior officers thought, including former IDF head of strategic planning Eival Giladi, have even said publicly, that the deal was too big, and didn't meet Israel's real needs.
The new deal will be a lot bigger – if it really does include 100 planes, it will cost us more than double the F-16 deal.
A lot of this money will come from American aid, but we are still speaking about an about money that could be used for other things, or perhaps, God forbid, that we could do without it.
Buying planes is just a small part of its cost. After we've got them, there is maintenance, running costs, pilot training – each of these cost an incredible amount and come out of an already-exorbitant defense budget that every economist in the country says should be significantly cut.
F-16 or M.R.I?
The finance ministry routinely says that Israel must decide if it wants more F-16s or more M.R.I. machines in hospitals. The new deal is much more than one M.R.I. machine.
Who knows – has anybody even explained? – why we need the new plane, or how many we really need?
Israel already enjoys vast air superiority over our neighbors. Our planes can effectively deal with ground-based threats (remember, the F-35 is primarily an attack plane).
We are world-class with everything to do with unmanned aircraft.
Perhaps we could make due with a few more drones, that would be cheaper to run, and wouldn't require pilot training or endanger pilot's lives.
Many people say the F-35 is the last manned fighter plane that technologically developed countries will use. Do we really need 100 of them?
And how is the decision being taken- why is there no opportunity for the public, that will pay a heavy price for the planes, to ask questions and receive answers?
In order to give a bitter-ironic twist to the whole story, the whole story comes to light the same week in which the air force staged a huge operation, including sonic booms over Gaza.
Without discussing the morality or benefit of this action, we should take note of the gap between the costs of the Israeli security projects as compared to the use they have in times of war.
But just like the public asks no questions about just what the sonic booms accomplish, it does not ask about just why we need 100 F-35s, today or in another 10 years.
Now, this article deals with the F35 vs. F16 dilemma, but it is very similar to F22 vs. the F15 which we already have. Yep, the F22 is superior in handling qualities, it's a better flier- but that's about it. Anything else the Americans can put into it, we can do the same or better- we're at least equal to them in the avionics and radars department and we're better in missiles (see the old thread in the news about why the Indian air force has beaten the USAF). And modern air combat is mostly a matter of exactly that- radars and missiles. You don't need to be all that good in maneuvering if you can acquire your targets with your tail towards them, or from a longer distance than they can lock on to you. Which renders the F22's flying advantage questionable.
More planes means more expenses. Even if a miracle happens and we get these planes for free, they will still cost us an arm and a leg in maintenance and spare parts- and we're in the business of cutting down on spending, if you haven't noticed.
Finally, what would we do with these planes? Anything we use our air force for can be done just as well with what we already have. We have an overwhelming advantage over our enemies already, and there's no shortage of ground attack aircraft. Hell, just a short while ago IAF was even considering upgrading the old Phantoms and putting them into use in the 21 century- and they would sure as hell be adequate for the job! Is there a sufficient reason for us to invest into enlarging our air power?
Well? Any thoughts?