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Israel and U.S. arguing over F-35 JSF

May 22, 2006 (by Jeff Hollenbeck) - Israel has been a strong ally to the USA in the middle east as well as a top customer for their fighter aircraft. While Israel currently fields F-15 Eagles and F-16 Vipers in defense of their nation, the future may not hold the promise of F-35 emblazoned with the Star of David.

F-35 AA-1, the first production representative prototype, undergoing ground vibration testing. The F-35 is slated to replace the F-15 and F-16 in air forces around the world.

Israel has a long history of using thier own technology to upgrade and specialize their aircraft for the IDF/AF. The F-15I and F-16I Sufa are prime examples of Israeli modifications to suit their uses.

According to published reports, the new sticking point in the deal for Israel to buy up to 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters is that the U.S. is including a "no modification" clause in the sale contracts. Anonymous sources in those reports site Israeli competition with U.S. firms for foreign contracts to maintain and upgrade systems on combat aircraft.

Israel was recently brought back into the F-35 project after having been excluded for some time due to an arms deal involving upgrading Chinese "Harpy" UAVs without U.S. approval.

The F-35 JSF is slated to replace the F-15 and F-16 in Air Forces around the world.