[Freemanlist2] Israel Angles to Extend US Offer for V-22s - Barbara Opall-Rome
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[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: take note about the F-35's - those jets whose justification for existing is a stealth quality that has already been
overcome by CURRENT TECHNOLOGY: Deliveries of the first 19 aircraft from
Israel's first contract are scheduled to begin in late 2016 and continue
through the end of 2019. By then, government and industry sources here say,
Israel hopes to conclude follow-on deals for 50 of the 75 aircraft
authorized for sale by the US Congress.]
Israel Angles to Extend US Offer for V-22s
By Barbara Opall-Rome 11:30 a.m. EST January 4, 2015
TEL AVIV — Israel has asked Washington to preserve cut-rate costs and
generous terms of a proposed package of up to six V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft
pending an ongoing reassessment of procurement priorities driven by last
summer's Gaza war.
Proposed prices, delivery schedules and deferred payment allowances
guaranteed in a Pentagon-crafted letter of offer and acceptance (LOA)
expired Dec. 10.
Israel didn't sign the LOA, but now wants to freeze its terms, which reduced
the estimated $1.3 billion package by nearly half, expedited deliveries and
allowed deferred payment through low-interest commercial loans essentially
secured by the promise of future-year military aid.
In interviews here, officials said they appreciated the extraordinarily
generous US offer and the personal support of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
and senior US Navy and Marine Corps leaders.
Many also acknowledged what one termed the "chutzpah" of reneging on a deal
that former Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya'alon — Hagel's
current counterpart — insisted was essential for safeguarding Israel's
qualitative military edge (QME).
"Two successive Israeli defense ministers lobbied hard to label this a
critical part of QME," a general in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reserves
said of legislation obligating the Pentagon to provide "necessary means" for
preserving Israel's advantage over any likely combination of regional
"They took our long-arm needs much more seriously than we did," the officer
said of the Bell Boeing tilt-rotors that Israel aimed to use for special
operations and extended-range missions.
"The chutzpah of this episode harms our credibility in Washington."
As of Jan. 2, the Pentagon had not responded to the Defense Ministry's
written request to keep terms of the LOA on ice pending the post-war
reassessment of investment priorities.
Long Arm Vs. Ground Maneuvering
The proposed V-22 package is not the only program to be shelved, stretched
or staggered due to the ongoing reassessment, which defense and industry
sources note is is being conducted under conditions of budgetary limbo at
home and rapidly escalating regional threats.
In late November, Israel decided to reduce the number of F-35s to be
included in a US government-administered follow-on contract with Lockheed
Martin from 33 to 14 aircraft.
Government and industry sources have characterized the downscaled order as a
half-step that buys Israel more time to budget for future follow-on
purchases and prepares to absorb the first tranche of 19 aircraft ordered
under a 2010 contract.
Deliveries of the first 19 aircraft from Israel's first contract are
scheduled to begin in late 2016 and continue through the end of 2019. By
then, government and industry sources here say, Israel hopes to conclude
follow-on deals for 50 of the 75 aircraft authorized for sale by the US
"They didn't scale back the program; they just staggered the orders to avoid
the expense of having all those aircraft under the same, immediate follow-on
contract," said a senior executive of a major Israeli aerospace firm
partnered with Lockheed Martin on F-35-related subassembly.
In parallel, Israel's Defense Ministry is also working with General Dynamics
Land Systems (GDLS), its Sterling Heights, Michigan-based partner on the
Namer heavy troop carrier, to stretch orders without renegotiating terms —
and risking penalty fees — on a 2011 contract.
Sources here say Israel still plans an inventory of more than 500 Namer
heavy carriers. Several hundred of those vehicles will come from
GDLS-produced assembly kits that Israel wants to acquire at a slower pace
than the 60 per year rate specified in its 2011 contract.
With no government-approved budget for 2015, the Israeli Defense Ministry is
operating essentially month-by-month according to 2014-approved funding
levels of some 51 billion shekels (US $13 billion), which includes US aid.
Compounding obstacles to long-term planning, sources here say, is a near
continuous need to revise threat assessments due to a region convulsing from
insurgencies, blurred borders and the steady rise of radical Islam.
"We're struggling with a cardinal dilemma: Do we fortify our long-arm [with
more F-35s and V-22s] or invest in more heavy troop carriers and active
defenses needed for the next round in Gaza or Lebanon," a government
official here said.
"We need both and we need them now," he added.
Defense officials said the issue is unlikely to be resolved until the new
government to be established after elections here March 17 approves a budget
for 2015 and spending guidelines for future years.
Email: bopallrome at defensenews.com.
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