The United States provided only a limited amount of
arms to Israel, including ammunition
and recoilless rifles, prior to 1962. In that year, President
Kennedy sold HAWK anti-aircraft missiles, but only after the Soviet
Union provided Egypt with
By 1965, the U.S. had become Israel's main arms supplier. This was partially necessitated by West Germany's acquiescence
to Arab pressure, which led it to stop selling tanks to Israel. As was
true throughout most of the Johnson Administration, however, the sale
of arms to Israel was balanced by corresponding transfers to the Arabs.
Thus, the first U.S. tank sale to Israel, in 1965, was offset by a similar
sale to Jordan.
The U.S. did not provide Israel with aircraft until
1966. Even then, secret agreements were made to provide the same planes
to Morocco and Libya,
and additional military equipment was sent to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.
As in 1948,
the U.S. imposed an arms embargo on Israel during the Six-Day
War, while the Arabs continued to receive Soviet arms. Israel's
position was further undermined by the French decision to embargo arms
transfers to the Jewish State, effectively ending their role as Israel's
only other major supplier.
It was only after it became clear that Israel had no
other sources of arms, and that the Soviet Union had no interest in
limiting its sales to the region, that President Johnson agreed to sell
Israel Phantom jets that gave the Jewish State its first qualitative
advantage. "We will henceforth become the principal arms supplier
to Israel," Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Warnke told Israeli
Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin,
"involving us even more intimately with Israel's security situation
and involving more directly the security of the United States."
From that point on, the U.S. began to pursue a policy
whereby Israel's qualitative edge was maintained. The U.S. has also
remained committed, however, to arming Arab nations, providing sophisticated
missiles, tanks and aircraft to Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia
and the Gulf states. Thus, while Israel received F-15s in 1978, so too
did Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In 1981, Saudi Arabia, for the first time,
received a weapons system that gave it a qualitative advantage over
IsraelAWACS radar planes.
In September 1999, Israel signed a deal with the United States to
purchase 50 F-16I fighter planes at a cost of $2.46
billion. Under the terms of the
agreement, Israel has the option to purchase 60 additional F-16Is at the
same price. The advanced model of the warplane contains systems that were developed by
Israel's military industries including avionics systems, an electronic
warfare system developed by Elisra, missiles and sensors manufactured by
Raphael, detachable fuel tanks
manufactured by Israel Military Industries and other Israeli-developed
In November 1999, the United States government approved the sale of
700 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bombs to the Israeli Air Force for $45
million. This marks the first time that Israel has been allowed to purchase
the JDAM. The bombs, which are produced by Boeing in St. Louis, are used by
specially-mounted F-15 and F-16 fighter planes and are considered the most
advanced of their type in the world.
In March 2002, the United States transferred
to Israel an advanced system to help detect
incoming ballistic missiles. The system works
together with the Arrow anti-missile system and is designed to enhance
Israel's early-warning capability. The impetus
for the transfer was the expectation that
the United States plans to eventually attack Iraq and that Saddam Hussein might respond, as
he did in the 1991 Gulf
War, by firing missiles at Israel.
In September 2004, the United States sold Israel nearly 5,000 smart bombs in one of the largest weapons deals between
the allies. Valued at $319 million, funding
for the sale will come from U.S. military aid to Israel. Among the bombs are 500 one-ton
bunker busters that can penetrate two-meter-thick cement walls; 2,500
regular one-ton bombs; 1,000 half-ton bombs; and 500 quarter-ton bombs.
The bombs Israel include airborne versions, guidance units,
training bombs and detonators. They are guided by an existing Israeli
satellite used by the military.
In October 2005, the U.S. Defense
Department announced a sale to Israel of jet engines and other air force equipment.
The $600 million total in parts and services
will probably come from the $2.2
billion the U.S pledged in grants to
Israel in 2005, most of which will be spent
in the United
States. The sale of jet engines
to Israel would “contribute to the
foreign policy and national security of the
U.S. by helping to improve the security of
a friendly country that has been, and continues
to be, an important force for economic progress
in the Middle East.” The engines, meant
for Israel's force of F-15 and F-16 fighters,
will dramatically improve the flying capabilities
and maintenance of the IAF fleet.
In December 2006, the U.S. Congress approved
a proposal to increase the amount of emergency
equipment the United States prepositions
in Israeli stockpiles. These stockpiles are
meant for use by U.S. forces
in the Middle East in case of an emergency.
is also allowed to use the stockpiles and
did so during combat in
the war with Hezollah in
the summer of 2006. The current value of materiel
in the stockpile is $100 million. In 2008,
the military stock will be doubled.
In December 2009, a new agreement was reached
to stockpile $800 million worth of weapons
and ammunition in Israel, which Obama administration
officials described as a sign of the U.S.
commitment to Israel's security. In 1990, the United
States began to preposition
military equipment in Israel for use by American military forces,
or by Israel in the event of a military emergency.
In late 2014 Israel signed a deal with the United States to purchase $82 million worth of JDAM kits for combat aircraft.
In response to Israel's skepticism and disapproval of the framework nuclear deal reached between the P5+1 and Iran, the United States and Israel entered unnoficial negotiations in mid-May 2015 aimed at providing the Israeli military with additional U.S. military equipment. U.S. officials announced on May 20 that they had signed a deal to sell Israel $1.8 billion in precision guided munitions, large and small bombs, and amunition. As a part of the deal Israel will also receive 3,000 Hellfire missiles that were supposed to be delivered in 2014, but were postponed due to Operation Protective Edge. Saudi Arabia will also receive 10 Seahawk helicopters from the United States as a part of this reassurance deal surrounding the framework agreement with Iran.
Benn, Aluf. “U.S. to sell Israel 5,000 smart-bombs,” Haaretz, (September 21-22, 2004);
Benhorin, Yitzhak. “U.S. to double emergency equipment stored in Israel,” Ynet News, (December 12, 2006);
Harel, Amos. “U.S. to store $800 million in military equipment in Israel,” Haaretz, (January 11, 2010);
Harel, Amos. “Washington, Jerusalem discussing massive compensation for Iran nuclear deal,” Haaretz, (May 20, 2015)
Cohen, Gil. “U.S. Sells Israel precision munitions, bombs, in $1.8 billion deal,” Haaretz, (May 20,. 2015)