The US defense giants are vying for pride of place in one of the world's best weaponry shop windows - and Israeli companies want a piece of the action.
In the coming months, IDF Chief of Staff Lieut. Gen. Aviv Kochavi will face one of the most important decisions the Israeli defense establishment has ever made: how to spend $11 billion on buying dozens of new top-of-the-line aircraft that the Israel Air Force will use for many decades into the future from the US arms industry.
The arms procurement plan, one of Israel's largest ever, will tie up almost one quarter of US defense aid money in the coming decade. It includes a new squadron of attack planes, 5-7 cutting-edge aircraft for airborne refueling, and transportation helicopters to replace the Yasur (Sea Stallion) helicopters used by the air force for four decades. All of these will be accompanied by additional investment in new systems to be installed on the aircraft, development of special equipment, operating and maintenance infrastructure, etc.
The most important Israeli decision involves a choice between two attack planes: the F-35 Adir (stealth fighter) manufactured by Lockheed Martin and the new F-15 manufactured by Boeing.
Lockheed Martin is offering Israel a third squadron of F-35s, plus new transportation helicopters and airborne refueling planes made by European company Airbus under a strategic cooperation agreement between the two companies.
Boeing is offering Israel a no less attractive package: a squadron of 25 new F-15s, plus airborne refueling planes developed for the US Air Force and advanced transportation helicopters. (end of excerpt)
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