November 15, 2007 (by Eric L. Palmer) - Flight International is reporting that according to the JSF program office the earliest that Israel could see the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) would be 2014.
F-35: How many for the Middle East region?
Quoting that November 11, 2007 article by Graham Warwick: "A source says JSF
programme partners the UK and Italy
have "moved aircraft to the right", making F-35s available for early delivery to FMS
is expected to be the first FMS buyer for the F-35, with a requirement for 100 aircraft."
What are the sales opportunities for more F-35s in the Middle East region in the coming years? Turkey
was briefed by Lockheed Martin the advantages of the "best value" industry participation JSF concept for their potential acquisition of 100 F-35s. In this brief there were several statements showing the bad sides of traditional "offsets" in military arms deals.
With other traditional JSF team members asking for their delivery to be delayed, will it take a traditional style of FMS (Foreign Military Sales) deal like the one proposed to Israel to gain more sales for JSF? Europe for example is spending less money on defense. Where does that put the program if some customers have "moved aircraft to the right"?
Israel getting healthy F-35 arrivals may be of significant help to the program but where does that put arms balance in the Middle East? How will a future U.S. administration deal with arms sales to the Middle East? Would Egypt
, who also receives U.S. military aid, be the next customer for F-35s sold via FMS? If so, what kind of balance will be needed to insure traditional JSF customers get a good deal vs. a traditional FMS sale with U.S. foreign military assistance? A briefing by Lockheed Martin to Israeli Journalists shows the "relative acquisition cost" of an F-16 and F-35 as being almost the same.
Assuming that the F-35 does well in testing, there is plenty of opportunity for Lockheed Martin to have great sales success with the F-35. History may show a chain of events, where traditional FMS deals in the Middle East were the real start of export success for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.