October 1, 2008 (by Eric L. Palmer) - The story of how money laundering of U.S. taxpayer funds return back to help a troubled aircraft program.
F-35 Lightning II ninth flight - March 13th, 2007
The F-35 program
needs cash. Major JSF
partner nations aren't buying yet and expenses are getting high. Failure to manage and estimate development costs and other factors outside the control of the program: Such as a falling U.S. dollar and the rising cost of manpower and material are having a negative effect. So where does Lockmart/Pentagon search for an infusion of cash to help push it along? Israel
An article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram
points it out in very simple language:
-Although Israel is placing the order, Darling said U.S. taxpayers will pick up most of the tab through annual foreign-aid grants targeted specifically to purchases of U.S. weapons systems. U.S. arms aid financing for Israel totaled $2.4 billion in 2008 and will rise to $3.1 billion annually from 2012 through 2018.-
Jackpot. And the stressed out U.S. taxpayer who is already carrying a heavy burden for a seriously in-debt U.S. Federal Government is picking up a large portion of the tab.
It will be interesting to see what the F-35 in IDF
service will look like. It will need an extreme overhaul in design to meet the IDF
requirements for indigenous weapons, indigenous avionics, indigenous everything. How will Team JSF countries respond when an IDF F-35 gets certified for tactical nuke stores?
It is doubtful that the F-35s are to be used against Iran. Why? While it is a convenient justification, with the U.S. happy to sell arms like JDAMs
and advanced air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia and other Middle East locales, the IDF has to keep a full menu of O-Plans in the safe ready to drag out for any number of contingencies. It is the modern air forces with Typhoons, F-15's, F-16s and cheap all-weather sub 4 meter PGMs that Israel has to game for.
Going against Iran while challenging, can be done just as well with existing strike aircraft and weapons like Spice
. It will be a very long time before Iran gets their air defense act together
. This means that the IDF can manage Iranian defenses for some time to come. The Iran issue might be resolved for better or worse by the time an F-35 in Israeli colors reaches IOC.
So if Congress approves the Israeli deal and the F-35 program doesn't encounter serious problems in testing, $15 plus billion spread out over a few years will help keep the program healthy and maybe even cover for any quitters in Team JSF that balk at procurement of the jet for any number of reasons.