IDF to begin debating procurement plan

Stealth jet, missile ship and new Hercules on list for possible new weapons.

F-35 jet (photo credit: )
F-35 jet
(photo credit: )
A stealth fighter jet, a revolutionary navy missile ship and the latest model of the Hercules transport aircraft are some of the military platforms the IDF General Staff will begin discussing on Monday as it convenes to determine the military's procurement plan for the next few years. On Monday, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi will convene the General Staff for a weeklong workshop during which the generals will approve the IDF's multi-year budgetary plan as well as its procurement program for the next five years. The plan was drafted by OC IDF Planning Division Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan. Each IDF branch will come to the workshop with its procurement requests. The Air Force will ask for a budget to purchase close to 100 F-35 fighter jets, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, under development by Lockheed Martin. If Israel signs a deal with Lockheed Martin in the coming year, the IAF, defense industry sources said, would begin receiving the fifth-generation stealth aircraft in 2014. Eight countries - including Britain, Turkey and Australia - are members of the JSF while Israel enjoys the status of a Security Cooperation Participant. The price of each jet is expected to reach $50-60 million. In addition, the IAF is hoping to be able to use the boost in foreign military aid from the US - Israel signed a memorandum with the US last week increasing defense aid from $2.4 billion annually to $3b. - to purchase a fleet of brand-new C-130 J model Hercules transport aircraft. In March, the IAF submitted a Request for Information (RFI) to Lockheed Martin to receive details on the cost and performance of the aircraft it hopes to purchase to replace its current fleet, some of which is 50 years old. The newest version of the Hercules, the "J" model, is externally similar to the classic Hercules but inside it's a different aircraft. It includes new Rolls-Royce Allison AE21000 turboprops with six-bladed composite propellers and digital avionics including heads-up displays for the pilots. Next in line is the Navy, which will be asking for a budget to purchase the next-generation Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) also under development by Lockheed Martin. Designed for speed, maneuverability and amphibious operations, the LCS was built according to US Naval specifications and as a "Brown Water" ship meant to operate in shallow waters along coasts and in depths where there are combined threats from land and sea. OC Navy Admiral David Ben-Bashat plans to ask the General Staff to approve the procurement of two LCS-class ships at a cost of several hundred million dollars per vessel. Defense sources said, however, that while the Navy was in need of new vessels, last year's closing of a $1.27b. deal to buy two new submarines from Germany might work against the Navy and prompt generals to vote against spending hundreds of millions again on sea-based platforms. According to defense sources, the LCS, if acquired by the Navy, would enhance Israel's long-arm capabilities. The ship, capable of carrying Special Forces and larger infantry units, can also carry midsize vehicles, as well as two helicopters. The ship would also be installed with the Barak anti-missile defense system and would be able to intercept incoming missiles. The generals will also most likely approve the purchase of large amounts of advanced missiles, including bunker-busters and Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) to refill stockpiles exhausted during last summer's Second Lebanon War. During the war, the IAF received emergency shipments of the munitions from the US. JDAM is a low-cost guidance kit produced by Boeing Co. that converts existing unguided free-fall bombs into accurately guided "smart" weapons. The JDAM kit consists of a tail section that contains a Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System and body improvements for additional stability and lift.