Biden administration weighing $18 billion arms deal with Israel, sources say

US official says deal to include some 50 F-15 aircraft; American government has informally notified relevant congressional committees, indicating its readiness to proceed with the sale
U.S. President Joe Biden's administration is weighing whether to go ahead with an $18 billion arms transfer package to Israel that would include dozens of F-15 aircraft, five sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.
The sale of 25 F-15s from Boeing Co. to Israel and has been under review since the United States received the formal request in January 2023, one of the sources said, long before Israel's six-month-old military campaign in Gaza. This sale would boost that number to as many as 50 F-15s.
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ג'ו ביידן, מטס F-15 של חיל האוויר
ג'ו ביידן, מטס F-15 של חיל האוויר
U.S. President Joe Biden's administration is weighing whether to sell Israel dozens of F-15 aircraft
(Photo: AFP)
Speeding delivery of the aircraft was among the top asks by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who visited Washington last week and held talks with U.S. officials including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, a second source said.
One U.S. official said the earliest the aircraft would be delivered is 2029, and that is if the formal notification were sent to Congress tomorrow and it were finalized immediately.
Israel is seeking to beef up its already formidable fleet of warplanes not just for its continuing fight against Hamas but to ward off any further threat from the Tehran-backed Lebanese armed group Hezbollah on its northern border as well as from Iran, its regional arch-foe.
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מטס F-15 של חיל האוויר
מטס F-15 של חיל האוויר
Israeli Air Force F-15
(Photo: EPA)
House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul gave the green light for the F-15 sale on Jan. 30, a committee aide said, when the relevant congressional offices responsible for approving major arms transfers were notified.
"Administration-Congressional deliberations on the F-15 case have already occurred," the second source familiar with the matter said, but added that some of the four offices required to sign off on any arms transfers had yet to do so.
U.S. law requires Congress to be notified of major foreign military sales agreements and allows it to block such sales by passing a resolution of disapproval over human rights violations or other concerns, although no such resolution has ever passed and survived a presidential veto.
An informal review process allows the Democratic and Republican leaders of foreign affairs committees to vet such agreements before a formal notification to Congress.
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