The United States may supply Israel with the most advanced stealth fighter jet in the world – the F22 Raptor – considering the war in Lebanon and the Iranian threat, the Israeli security establishment has assessed.
The US has not yet exported the F22 to any of its allies. Recently, however, the House of Representatives lifted its nine year ban on the sale of the advanced jet outside the United States. No real contacts have yet been made on the matter, but the lifting of the ban on its sale has paved the way for such a deal.
US officials have apparently hinted to Israel lately that as part of American efforts in the international war on the “axis of evil,” the US would offer Israel to buy the stealth fighter.
The F22 Raptor is manufactured by Lockheed Martin. Originally, the US Air Force planned to buy 750 of the jets, but the number dropped first to 350, then to a mere 183. The price of each F22 is roughly USD 150 million. Lockheed Martin wanted to export the plane to American allies, but up until now it was barred by the US government from offering them for sale.
The Israeli Air Force enthusiastically welcomed reports that the stealth jet could come to Israel. The F22 Raptor is the most advanced warplane in the world and is almost undetectable to radar systems. The plane’s stealth is achieved through the combination of its shape, color, composite materials, and various installed systems.
The single-seater plane is armed mainly with air-to-air missiles, but also with the smart missiles used by the Israeli Air Force.
Anti-missile systems project
In addition, security officials assessed Wednesday that the US administration would significantly boost funding of the joint American-Israeli program to develop anti-missile systems.
“The threat is on the whole world, and Washington understands that a solution must be found – and fast,” one of the sources said.
Even before the current war, the security establishment assessed that all types of rockets – starting at the simple Qassam all the way to accurate long-range missiles – would be the main weapon of terrorism used against Israel in the upcoming years.
For this purpose, the Defense Ministry decided to take up a joint offer by the Rafael Advanced Development Authority Ltd. and the American Raytheon Company to manufacture an unprecedented defense system, jointly funded by Israel and the US.
The initial investment amounted to USD 250 million. The project’s main aim was to develop a portable system that would quickly identify rocket launches and respond immediately by destroying the enemy rocket.