Israel to reach out to Biden administration over long-term military aid

“The new plan will need to account for the changing threats in the Middle East."

IAF, USAF hold joint F-35 drill in southern Israel (photo credit: IAF)
IAF, USAF hold joint F-35 drill in southern Israel
(photo credit: IAF)
Israel plans to reach out to US President-elect Joe Biden’s administration in the coming months to begin discussing the formulation of a new long-term military aid plan for the IDF.
A new multibillion-dollar plan would be an issue that Israel will want to begin working on as soon as possible to ensure it is approved and implemented before the next administration leaves office and the current aid program expires in 2027, a top defense official told The Jerusalem Post.
The US currently provides Israel with $3.8 billion as part of a $38b. military aid program signed in 2016 shortly before president Barack Obama left office. While the MOU was signed in 2016, it only went into effect at the end of 2018.
Under the deal signed then, Israel started to receive $3.8b. in foreign military financing (FMF) that needs to be spent in America to purchase US-made military platforms. The money has been used in recent years to purchase fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets and to replenish stockpiles of advanced weapon systems.
While the 2016 package constituted the most US military aid given to any country, it entailed concessions by Israel, which had to commit not to seek additional funds from Congress beyond what was guaranteed in the annual package.
In addition, the agreement phased out a special arrangement that had allowed Israel to spend part of the aid money on its own defense industry instead of on American-made weapons.
The MOU signed in 2016 will expire in 2027. As a result, defense officials said Israel would need to begin talks almost immediately with the incoming administration, whose term will last at least until January 2025. This will be to ensure that a friendly administration approves the plan even though it will officially go into effect under a different administration.
“We will want to talk about a new package and program,” a senior defense official explained. “The new plan will need to take into account the changing threats and challenges we face in the Middle East.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed a joint declaration in late October with US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper at the Pentagon confirming America’s strategic commitment to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME) in the Middle East.
Israel has been concerned it could lose its QME in light of US plans to sell F-35 jets to the United Arab Emirates. Qatar has also submitted a request to purchase F-35 jets, and there is concern that additional Arab countries – as they normalize relations with Israel – will also ask to acquire the platform.
The agreement will supposedly enable long-term procurement plans that will provide Israel with advanced weapons systems to significantly upgrade its military capabilities.
Israel is also currently in discussions with the Pentagon to purchase more F-35s, new advanced F-15 fighter jets, new refueling tankers and new heavy-lift transport helicopters, as well as a batch of V-22 Ospreys for special operations.