Israel to Participate in Joint Strike Fighter Program
(February 14, 2003)
The United States and Israel signed an agreement to cooperate in the development of America's latest jet fighter design. The Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) is scheduled to be built within the next 10 years and Israel will pay the United States millions of dollars for the rights to use and participate in the designing of the plane.
U.S. Undersecretary of Defense, Technology, and Logistics Edward Aldridge Jr. and Defense Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron signed a letter in February 13, 2003, outlining the terms of the agreement.
The agreement includes a special bilateral security deal with Israel as one of the other eight countries working with the United States.
Israel will be forbidden to participate in discussion of the development but will be permitted to give imput. Israel has requested that the U.S. stock the planes with air-to-air missiles and other U.S. equipment.
A helmet manufactured by Elbit will also be included on the jet. The helmet uses eye motion to aim missile fire at objects like air-to-air missiles.
Israeli firms will also have an opportunity compete for contracts to produce the new aircraft. "Every company that is going to compete, whether Israeli, American, or European, is going to be judged on its best value, in terms of price and value of technology," an Israeli official said.*
An Israeli program office will move to Washington near the Joint Strike Fighter office. Israel has arranged for the aircraft to be stocked by 2012.
Israeli has not yet announced the number of planes that it will buy.