F-35 jet (archives)
Photo: Lockheed Martin

Finance minister: Reassess purchase of F-35I jets

Steinitz calls on Cabinet to discuss 'significant economic aspects' of $2.7 billion deal with US

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz has called on Cabinet to reconsider the decision to purchase 20 F-35I stealth fighter aircraft from the United States for $2.7 billion (roughly NIS 10 billion).


Defense Minister Ehud Barak authorized the deal last week.


The main obstacle in signing the deal was its high cost and the cost of installing Israeli systems in it. The first jet is slated to arrive in Israel in 2015, but Israeli pilots will get a chance to hold training flights on it in the US a year earlier.


After Barak's approval, the Political-Security Cabinet has to sign off on the deal. Production will start after the Defense Ministry and US Congress have drafted a written agreement.


Following Sunday's Cabinet meeting, Steinitz said the government must discuss the "significant economic aspects" of the deal, adding that the government must also look into the possibility increasing the military industry's involvement in the production of the systems set to be installed in the plane.


Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer championed Barak's decision to purchase the planes, but National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau said Steinitz's demand for a Cabinet debate was legitimate.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped the debate at this point and said a government meeting was not the appropriate forum to discuss the matter.


"Maybe the debate should be held in the forum of seven ministers," he said. No such meeting has been scheduled as of yet.


A response from the defense minister's office has not been received.




פרסום ראשון: 08.23.10, 00:26
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