Israel, the United Arab Emirates and India led the world over the past five
years in the procurement of new fighter jets, according to a study conducted by
the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
to the report released last week, combat aircraft made up one-third of all
global arms transfers between 2005 and 2006. The United States was the largest
exporter of jets with 341 sold in that period compared to a total of 286 it sold
in the previous five years. Russian sales were down from 331 between 2000 and
2004 to 219 between 2005 and 2006.
According to the report, Israel
purchased 82 new aircraft during the period, preceded by the UAE with 108 and
India with 115. Israel received mostly new F-16s of the “I” model like the one
that crashed last week in the Ramon Crater.
The report warned of the
destabilizing effect the sale of combat aircraft could have throughout the
“While combat aircraft are often presented as one of the most
important weapons needed for defense, these same aircraft give countries
possessing them the potential to easily and with little warning strike deep into
neighboring countries,” said Siemon Wezeman, a senior fellow with the SIPRI Arms
Transfers Program and author of the study.
As an example of the
destabilizing effect combat aircraft could have, the study gave Israel’s alleged
strike on a Syrian nuclear reactor in September 2007 as well as Russian attacks
on Georgia in 2008 as examples.
“Acquisitions of combat aircraft thus
clearly can have a major destabilizing effect on regions, as reactions to
acquisitions in several regions show,” Wezeman said.
In related news,
Israeli defense officials said last week that they were confident that reports
about possible delays to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program would not affect
the recently signed deal for the Israel Air Force to begin receiving the
aircraft in 2016.
Defense Ministry director-general Udi Shani spoke last
week with senior officials in the Pentagon and was told that even if there are
delays in the F- 35 program, it would not affect Israeli procurement
Recent reports claim that the program may be as far as three years
Israel finalized $2.75 billion deal for 20 F-35s in
A review of the F-35 program is scheduled to be presented
to the Defense Acquisition Board on November 22.