Meet the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, a single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed for the United States Air Force. This 5th Generation warplane’s unique combination of stealth, speed, agility, and situational awareness, combined with lethal long-range air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry, makes it the best air dominance fighter in the world. Nothing comes even close.
Defense officials told Haaretz this week that the fact that PM Netanyahu concealed from them his intention to approve the sale of the F-35s to the UAE prevented them from possibly advancing a move to remove restrictions on the purchase of the world’s most advanced fighter jet (you know, the F-22 Raptor).
The defense establishment officially declined to comment on the matter, but officials confirmed unofficially that Israel had approached the Pentagon asking to reexamine the possibility of removing obstacles to the sale of the aircraft to the Israeli Air Force, to preserve the IDF’s superiority in the air.
Under US federal law, the F-22 cannot be exported to anyone, to protect its stealth technology and numerous classified features. Customers for US fighters are forced to acquire earlier designs such as the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon or the newer F-35 Lightning II, which contains technology from the F-22 but was designed to be cheaper, more flexible, and available for export.
In September 2006, Congress upheld the ban on foreign F-22 sales. However, despite this ban, the 2010 defense authorization bill included provisions requiring the DoD to prepare a report on the costs and feasibility for an F-22 export variant, and another report on the effect of F-22 export sales on the US aerospace industry.
Incidentally, the cost of one Raptor to the USAF is $150 million. No idea how much Israel would be asked to pay, probably out of the $3.8 billion annual military aid budget. To give you an idea, the cost of the USAF of the F-35 is roughly between $80 and $95 million per unit, but foreign customers pay between $175 and $200 million per unit.
According to senior Israeli officials, if the defense establishment had known that the US was in talks with Israel and the United Arab Emirates on normalization, they would have seized the opportunity and negotiated for the F-22 as an amendment of the old aid package which is due to end in 2028, or a new and improved deal.
Senior Israeli defense establishment believes that the purchase of the most advanced fighter jet in the world would be key to maintaining the IDF’s technological superiority in the region (it’s also the shiniest toy on the shelf, don’t knock the psychological effect of such a purchase – DI).
“Our qualitative advantage is diminishing in aircraft, mortars, armaments and air defense systems,” a senior security official said in a recent closed hearing, according to Haaretz. He added: “The rate of change in the Middle East is high, it is a different Middle East than it was in the previous decade, and many countries that are not in direct conflict with Israel are investing huge sums to build the most advanced air forces and air defense systems in the world.”
Can’t have that.
Like every state-of-the-art warplane, the F-22 has been plagued by accidents, starting in 2004, at least one of which ended with the pilot getting killed. The most recent one took place on May 15, when an F-22 from Eglin Air Force Base crashed during a routine training mission. The pilot ejected safely, and the aircraft crashed in a remote part of Eglin Air Force Base reservation.
The IAF has a reputation for taking over sensitive US warplanes and ridding them of the kinks.
Here’s an example of what the F-22 can do: