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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow US may lift ban on F-22 sale to Israel
US may lift ban on F-22 sale to Israel PDF Print E-mail
Written by Hilary Leila Krieger, Khaled Abu Toameh and Yaakov Katz, JPost   
Friday, 06 June 2008

F-22
F-22

Analysis: An undetectable route to Iran

US may lift ban on F-22 sale to Israel

Hilary Leila Krieger, jerusalem post correspondent , THE JERUSALEM POST  Jun. 6, 2008

US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, whose panel has hitherto prevented the sale to Israel of the F-22 stealth fighter jet, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that he was open to removing the sales restriction to boost Israeli deterrence.

The F-22 "Raptor" has long been regarded as a tremendous potential asset in any Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, given its ability to penetrate even the most sophisticated radar and other defense systems.

Officials reportedly brought up the possibility of a repeal of the sales ban in meetings at the White House during Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's trip to Washington this week, though his aides declined to confirm the details of the conversations.

"I'm a strong supporter of Israel getting all the material and equipment they need," said Berman, a California Democrat who assumed the chairmanship after the death of Tom Lantos earlier this year. In terms of dropping the ban on F-22 sales, he said, "I certainly would look at it."

Berman, who visited Israel last month, noted that the House recently passed a bill to strengthen Israel's qualitative military edge in any US arms sales, explaining, "We're trying to lay a foundation for a tougher-minded evaluation of what assistance Israel needs."

That legislation needs to pass in the US Senate before it can be signed into law. And any effort by Berman to drop the ban on sales of the F-22 - described in the past as based on protecting the US from the transfer of technology to the wrong actors - would have to be matched in the Senate. Still, as a leading figure in the House on foreign issues, Berman would be a key player on moving such a priority forward.

Israel has been looking for further US support on a variety of defense measures - including developing advanced missile defense capabilities, acquiring smart bomb technology and expediting F-35 sales - with the Iranian nuclear threat looming.

Iran was the focus of Wednesday's talks, with Olmert saying that Bush had answered many of the questions he'd had about the US path, determination and time frame on Iran. He told reporters after meeting with Bush in the Oval Office that "every day we are making real strides towards dealing with this problem more effectively."

Iran was also on the agenda of meetings Olmert held with the US Senate leadership Thursday afternoon before his return to Israel later in the day. Also discussed were Syria and Lebanon, peace talks with the Palestinians, and how to deal with Hamas and the Gaza Strip. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's reopening of national unity talks with Hamas could change that equation.

Berman suggested that US funding for the Palestinians could be jeopardized by these talks. American lawmakers would have doubts about giving money to a government that includes a group labeled a terrorist organization by the US, particularly for training Palestinian security forces.

"It certainly undercuts our ability to do a lot of things with the Palestinians," he said. "Giving money to an authority that has Hamas in it is very different from giving money to an administration headed by [PA Prime Minister] Salaam Fayad" of Fatah.

Palestinian officials said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had demanded clarifications about Abbas's decision to resume unconditional talks with Hamas in a conversation Thursday briefing him on Olmert's visit.

They said Abbas explained his motives to Rice and told her that the initiative was aimed at ending the crisis in the Palestinian arena.

Abbas and Rice also discussed the latest developments and the peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, PA officials said. They added that Abbas urged Rice to pressure Israel to halt settlement construction and to implement the road map peace plan.

Khaled Abu Toameh and Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1212659672972&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

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F-22 is the only 5th Generation Fighter Flying in the World Today
F-22 is by far the most advanced fighter plane the world has ever seen
F-22 Raptor Airshow Demo at Langley Air Force Base


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Related Article

Analysis: An undetectable route to Iran
Yaakov Katz , THE JERUSALEM POST  Jun. 6, 2008

Imagine this: Ten fighter jets take off from a base in northern Israel, fly over Jordan, Iraq and into Iran to bomb air-defense missile systems, radar stations and nuclear facilities. They then leave Iranian airspace safely without sustaining any enemy fire.

Sounds implausible? If the IAF has its way, the possibility will become realistic in the near future.

The key is the F-22 single-seater, double-engine aircraft, manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. Through a combination of its shape, composite materials, color and other integrated systems, it can fly in enemy airspace without being detected.

Israel has had its sights set on the F-22 since its development began in the early 1990s. Today it is the only 5th generation fighter jet fully operational with stealth capabilities. Branded the "Raptor" by the US Air Force, it operates out of Langley, Virginia, Florida and New Mexico.

To date, the US government has clamped an embargo on the sale of the aircraft to foreign countries. But on Wednesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reportedly raised the issue with President George Bush in Washington. Other talks have taken place in recent months at the Defense Ministry-Pentagon level.

According to defense sources, the Pentagon might be inclined to change its mind and allow a sale to Israel, particularly in light of the looming nuclear threat from Iran.

"The prospect of a squadron of stealth-enabled F-22s flying undetected into Iran, opening the internal compartments that carry their missiles and dropping them into the nuclear sites - that is one piece of deterrence!" said a source close to the IAF.

The F-22 would be used in an air strike to first blow out enemy air defense systems and radar stations and to create "clear skies" for the rest of the IAF's fleet of F-15 and F-16 bombers.

Maj.-Gen. Elazar Shkedy, who stepped down as IAF commander last month, admitted on several occasions that given the opportunity, Israel would buy the F-22, no matter the $150 million per-unit price tag. Shkedy's principle was that Israel always needs to have the most-advanced and most-superior military platforms.

The congressional ban on any such sale was imposed out of fear that the plane's unique stealth technology could fall into hostile hands.

The F-22 assembly line in Fort Worth is inside the same hanger where Lockheed Martin builds the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), but is closed in by a fence which is covered by a blue canvas sheet.

Last year, Likud MK Yuval Steinitz was one of the first foreigners to see the assembly line close up when he visited the plant together with a delegation of Israeli lawmakers.

One could make an argument that Israel is a close ally of the US and therefore could be trusted. But the Pentagon has been suspicious of Israel since 2003, when relations soured over Israel's upgrade of Chinese drones.

But Israel is not the only country asking for the plane. Japan has expressed interest. And during a visit to Australia in February, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was presented with a request to buy the plane and said he would look into the possibility of lifting the ban.

If Congress decided to allow foreign sales, the US would not be able to sell the plane just to Israel. It would likely have to sell to additional allies and could face a complex dilemma if and when Saudi Arabia asked to buy the plane.

If the ban is lifted in the coming months, Israel could potentially receive the plane within the next two years, according to Yiftah Shapir, an analyst at the Institute for National Security Studies and author of its annual Middle East Military Balance Report. By contrast, Israel is set to receive the stealth JSF in 2014, or 2013 at the earliest.

"The F-22 would provide Israel with a new level of air dominance," Shapir said. "It is questionable whether Israel really needs it, but it would certainly contribute to IAF capabilities in face of the Iranian threat."

This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1212659672978&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

 



 
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