Knesset to weigh in on JSF purchase

Request comes following 'Post' report about increasing cost of the plane, and US refusal to allow IAF to integrate its own systems in aircraft.

joint strike fighter 298 (photo credit: AP)
joint strike fighter 298
(photo credit: AP)
The Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee will hold a special session to debate IDF plans to purchase the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) stealth fighter jet from Lockheed Martin. A request to hold the session was submitted to committee chairman Tzahi Hanegbi by Kadima MK Nahman Shai, in the wake of reports in The Jerusalem Post and other media about the increasing cost of the plane and the Pentagon's refusal to allow the air force to integrate its own systems into the aircraft. Shai, a former IDF spokesman, called on the IAF and Defense Ministry to adopt a policy of transparency on their procurement plans. On Tuesday, the Post revealed a report prepared for Congress that claimed the JSF program was years behind schedule and would likely cost more than initially predicted. Also known as the F-35, the JSF is a fifth-generation stealth fighter jet. Its sale to Israel has already been approved by the Pentagon. "This is a deal worth several billion dollars, and the Knesset should be involved in the decision-making process in an oversight capacity," Shai said. "This deal will use up all of the foreign military aid we get from the US, and it is important that we be involved in ensuring that the right decision is made." Shai specifically referred to recent reports in the Post regarding the Pentagon's refusal to grant Israel access to the plane's computer mainframe, as well as its refusal to permit the installation of Israeli-made electronic warfare systems. "They are not letting us put our systems in the aircraft, and this is a real punishment, since our advantage has always been to have our own systems inside," Shai said. "The question then becomes, what is the difference between our plane and the one the Egyptians or the Saudis will get?"