by Moshe Arens
By Moshe Arens Op Ed in Haaretz Published 03:29 27.07.10
Who would have believed it? Some years ago
most advanced fighter aircraft, the Lavi, while the Western world's aircraft
manufacturers were beating their way to our door, eager to participate in
the Lavi project, or trying to sell their competing plane to the Israel Air
Force. And now
to acquire the F-35 aircraft, at a price tag of $150 million each. But it's
not only the astronomical price.
as is - no changes or modifications to suit
absolutely no Israeli systems included. Take it or leave it.
The IAF would be operating the world's most advanced fighter, upgraded over
the years to incorporate operational experience and newer technology. Much
Industries would have become a leading developer of fighter aircraft, and
most importantly, a number of options would be open to the IAF in choosing
its next fighter.
What were the outlandish claims trumpeted by the opponents of the Lavi? The
project, they said, was too big for
not believed that we could convince the U.S. Congress to fund most of the
project, and certainly were incapable of foreseeing
in the years to come. Now they are staring at a $3 billion price tag for 20
F-35s. They said
accessory systems to be mounted on the platforms. Now
And where would we be today if we had believed that nonsense about not
developing platforms? Out of the satellite-launching and
unmanned-aerial-vehicle business. Where are they today, the people who at
the time foolishly led the crusade against the Lavi? Surprisingly, 23 years
later, some are still involved in decision-making on national security. They
were against the development of the Lavi, against the development of an
Israeli reconnaissance satellite, and against the development of the Arrow
ballistic missile interceptor. But unfazed, they continue on.
Do they admit they were mistaken? Admitting past mistakes is a rare human
quality, but there are exceptions. Dan Halutz, a fighter pilot ace and former IAF commander and chief of staff, at the time like many senior IAF
officers a supporter of the cancellation of the Lavi project, recognizes in
his recent book that it was a mistake to cancel the project.
So what's the use of crying over spilled milk? Are there alternatives to
swallowing our pride and shelling out $3 billion for 20 F-35s? (The original
plan had been to acquire 75 aircraft, which would have brought the price
above $11 billion, but that was too expensive. ) Before we make that
commitment, a little intellectual effort should be invested in looking at
fighter aircraft? That needs to be examined in some depth. No doubt some of
the capability that existed at the time of the Lavi project has been lost
over the years, but as has been proved time and again,
world-class technological capability. Its success in unmanned aerial
vehicles is only one of a number of examples.
If it turns out that the capability to design the IAF's next fighter
aircraft does exist in
Congress in search of funding, because we would have to remind them that 27
years ago they were fools to invest $1 billion in the development of the
who are prepared to invest resources in such a project, who have the
necessary technological capability, and who are not involved in the F-35
Are there such candidates? In theory, yes.
industry, chose not to participate in the F-35 project.
considerable aeronautical capability and a meteorically growing economy,
might be another candidate. And there is
be interested, and perhaps all of them would be. It's worth a try.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.