Pentagon Halts Israeli Fighter Jet Bid, US a Rival on Tender
by Malkah Fleisher
July 10, 2009
A scandal has arisen out of the United States military establishment after Pentagon pressure on Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to withdraw from a massive aircraft tender for the Indian Air Force leaves competing American aerospace companies in prime position to win it.
On the table: a $12 billion Indian Ministry of Defense tender for 126 multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) for the Indian Air Force.
In a bid to win the tender, IAI was offered a partnership with Sweden's Saab AB to jointly develop an advanced model of the JAS-39 Gripen jet fighter. Israel was to build the electronic systems for the craft, including communications, electronic warfare and radar systems.
The Pentagon contacted Israel's Ministry of Defense, ordering them to force IAI out of contention, citing concerns that Israel would integrate American technology into the fighter jets.
However, two of the remaining four bidders are American companies, leaving Israeli officials speculating that the actual reason for the demand was America's interest in winning the bid without having to compete by lowering prices, according to Israeli officials quoted in Israeli media.
Lockheed Martin's F-16 and Boeing's F-18 Hornet are still in the running, as well as Russia's MiG-35 and the UK's BAE Eurofighter.
The United States has a history of intervening to thwart Israeli military contracts, to America's benefit. Last summer, Israel's defense establishment backed down from a $500 million Turkish tank tender in order not to compete with the Americans.
In 2006, the IAI lost a $2 billion South Korean Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) tender after the US imposed technological and commercial restrictions, which prevented Israel from meeting the terms of the tender.
In 2003, the US opposed a $1 billion AWACS contract between Israel and India, citing India's stance against the US war in Iraq. The US offered Israel $1 billion in US military goods to back down from the agreement. However, Israeli officials speculated that the US may have opposed the deal for commercial reasons.
I really should not ever be surprised by the U.S. government jerking Israel around, but it never fails to anger me. Every single presidential administration, Republican or Democrat, always, without fail, pressures Israel into something that should not done. The U.S. too many times uses its alliance with Israel to force them to give up land, capitulate to the terrorist Palestinian Liberation Organization a.k.a. Palestinian Authority, or some other nonsense. The U.S. is the last remaining ally that Israel can halfway count on, so the U.S. uses this fact to push Israel into many things it should not.
In this situation, this is about as crooked as it gets. Yes, I said "crooked." One does not have to be the proverbial "rocket scientist" to figure this one out. If there's such a concern the fighters will be fitted with American technology if the Israeli company won the bid, then the two American companies, Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, that are biddng, should be ordered out of the bidding competition. If I were a spokesman for the Obama administration, I think I could have come up with a better cover story than that. Yes, I said "cover story", which is Washington-speak for "lie."