Saturday, September 13, 2008

Israel-United States military relations.


Israel-United States military relations have been extremely close,  reflecting both shared security interests in the unstable Middle East and the influence of a strong pro-Israel lobby in the United States. A major purchaser and user of US military equipment, Israel is also involved in the joint development of military technology and regularly engages in joint military exercises involving United States and other friendly forces.

The relationship has deepened gradually over time, though, as Alan Dowty puts it, it was "not a simple linear process of growing cooperation, but rather a series of tendentious bargaining situations with different strategic and political components in each."

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During the first twenty years of Israel's existence, United States policy in the Middle East was driven by two major policy concerns: The prevention of an arms race in the Near East, and the prevention of the spread of Soviet influence. Israel's main military patron at the time was France, which supported Israel by providing it with advanced military equipment and technology, such as the Dassault Mystère fighter-bomber aircraft. Initially, the US government resisted pressure by Israel and Arab countries in the region to sell them advanced weapons. In response to the supply of advanced fighter aircraft by the USSR to Iraq and the United Arab Republic, the US government agreed to sell MIM-23 Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to Israel in 1962, as a "specific action designed to meet a specific situation" which "by no means constitutes change in US policy in area.". The Hawk system was approved on the grounds that it was a "purely defensive" weapon.. Later, when Jordan threatened to turn to the USSR for weapons, the US agreed to sell tanks and jet aircraft to Jordan in order to prevent the spread of Soviet influence, and in return, agreed to sell similar systems to Israel.

During the early 1960s, the US government sought to establish a regional arms limitation agreement in the Middle East. The initiative lost steam in early 1965 after it was disclosed that the US had been indirectly supplying weapons to Israel via West Germany since 1962, under the terms of a 1960 secret agreement to supply Israel with $80 million worth of armaments. The remainder of the agreement was fulfilled publicly, following its disclosure by the U.S., with Israel receiving shipments of M48 Patton tanks in 1965 and A-4E Skyhawk attack aircraft in 1968.

US policy changed markedly after the Six-Day War of 1967, in response to a perception that many Arab states (notably Egypt) had permanently drifted toward the Soviet Union. In 1968, with strong support from Congress, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson approved the sale of F-4 Phantom II fighters to Israel, establishing the precedent for U.S. support for Israel's qualitative military edge over its neighbors. The U.S., however, would continue to supply arms to Israel's neighbors, particularly Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, in order to counter Soviet arms sales and influence in the region.

 During the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the US mounted a major airlift codenamed Operation Nickel Grass to deliver weapons and supplies to Israel. Over 22,000 tons of tanks, artillery, ammunition, and other materiel were delivered to aid the Israeli military in response to a large-scale Soviet resupply effort of the Arab states. The operation was paralleled by a large-scale sealift of some 33,000 tons of materiel and the transfer of 40 F-4 Phantoms, 36 A-4 Skyhawks and twelve C-130 Hercules transport aircraft to replace Israeli war losses.

Bilateral military cooperation deepened under the Ronald Reagan administration in the 1980s. In 1981, US Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and Israeli Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon signed the Strategic Cooperation Agreement, establishing a framework for continued consultation and cooperation to enhance the national security of both countries. In November 1983, the two sides formed a Joint Political Military Group, which still meets twice a year, to implement most provisions of the MOU.  Joint air and sea military exercises began in June 1984, and the United States has constructed facilities to stockpile military equipment in Israel.

In 1987, the United States granted Israel the status of major non-NATO ally, enabling it to compete equally with NATO and other US allies for contracts and purchase advanced US weapons systems. Israel became the largest recipient of U.S. military aid in the world. In 1988, Reagan and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize and perpetuate the work of the bilateral US-Israel military, security and economic working groups.

In an effort to prevent Israel from retaliating against Iraqi SS-1 Scud missile attacks during the Persian Gulf war of 1991, and thereby breaking up the US-Arab coalition, the US dispatched MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries to Israel. The effort met with very limited success, with less than 10% and perhaps as few as none of the Scuds fired against Israel intercepted successfully.

Under the Bill Clinton administration in the 1990s, the US government made efforts to bolster the Israeli government's military edge by allowing it to purchase $700m of the latest U.S. military equipment, including advanced fighters, attack helicopters and the Joint Direct Attack Munition system. A series of major joint military technology development projects was also instituted.

Further extensive military cooperation took place under the George W. Bush administration, with Israel placing major orders for F-16I multirole fighters. During the 2006 Lebanon War, the United States provided a major resupply of jet fuel and precision-guided munition to replenish depleted Israeli stocks.

Joint military activity

Israeli soldiers and US Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit fast-rope from a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter on the deck of the USS Kearsarge (LHD-3).

The United States and Israel cooperate closely in a number of areas of military activity. The U.S. underwrites Israel's research and development of weapons, contributing significant amounts of money to Israeli defense projects such as the Merkava main battle tank and the IAI Lavi ground-attack aircraft. Israel is a participant in the F-35 Lightning II fighter development program and was offered access to the F-22 Raptor program, though it turned this down due to the high costs.

The U.S. and Israel also cooperate jointly on a number of technology development programs, notably the Arrow missile system and the Tactical High Energy Laser (also known as Nautilus). The two countries carry out regular exercises together, including carrying out biennial exercises codenamed JUNIPER COBRA intended to test interoperability between the two militaries. In addition, the Israeli port of Haifa is the main port of call in the eastern Mediterranean for the United States Sixth Fleet, and Israel provides other logistical and maintenance support for U.S. forces in the region. The two countries also share intelligence and maintain a joint anti-terrorist working group, and in April 2007 their air forces committed to share information about mutually relevant procurements.


The close military relationship between the U.S. and Israel has engendered a number of controversies over the years. Operation Nickel Grass — the U.S. resupply effort during the Yom Kippur War — led to retaliation, as the Arab states declared a complete oil embargo on the United States, causing oil prices to skyrocket, fuel becoming scarce, and embroiling the United States in the 1973 oil crisis.

Israeli use of U.S.-provided military equipment in the 1982 Lebanon War resulted in controversy, exposing serious differences between Israeli and U.S. policies.[citation needed] Similar controversies attended Israel's use of weapons supplied by the U.S. in the course of the Palestinian First Intifada and al-Aqsa Intifada as well as the 2006 Lebanon War.

Military aid

Israel has received more U.S. military assistance than any other country, both in terms of grant aid and military sales on a concessional basis. Since 1987, the U.S. has provided an average of $1.8 billion annually in the form of Foreign Military Sales (FMS), Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and funds to support research and development.

A bilateral memorandum of understanding was signed in January 2001, at the end of the Clinton administration, under which defense aid was increased to $2.4 billion annually from $1.8 billion, while the $1.2 billion of economic aid would be eliminated. This was predicated on the basis of the defense aid being increased by $60 million per year until the full amount was reached in 2008, while the economic aid is decreased by $120 million per year until eliminated.

In 2007, the United States increased its military aid to Israel by over 25%, to an average of $3 billion per year for the following ten year period (starting at $2.550 billion for 2008, growing by $150 million each year). The package is scheduled to start October 2008, when regular economic aid to Israel's economy is to end. Officials have insisted the aid is not tied, or meant to balance, simultaneous military aid packages totalling $20 billion to Arab countries including Saudi Arabia. U.S. President George W. Bush assured Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that the U.S. would help keep a "qualitative advantage" to Israel over other nations in the region.

Significant major procurements

The United States is the largest single supplier of military equipment to Israel. According to the U.S. Congressional Research Service, between 1998-2005 the U.S. accounted for the vast majority of Israel's arms transfer agreements, accounting for $9.1 billion out of $9.5 billion worth of agreements.

Israel deals directly with U.S. companies for the vast majority of its military purchases from the United States, though it requires permission from the U.S. government for specific purchases. Permission is not always automatic; for instance, in March 2000 it became known that the Israeli government had been refused permission to purchase BGM-109 Tomahawk missiles.

Israel has the world's largest F-16 fleet outside the United States Air Force. With the delivery of 102 F-16Is, scheduled through 2008, the Israeli Air Force will have a total F-16 inventory of 362, in addition to 89 F-15s.


1 comment:

Abe Bird said...

I wanted to say something more to those who say that the US gives Israel 3$ billiards a year 'for nothing' and say that Israel is depended on the US' good will. This claim is false one and assisting the interest of some Anti Israel and Anti Semite gangs, including extreme Muslims all around.

Both countries help each other for decades, each one by hers virtue. Not only "Green Money" included, but lot of "Equal to Money" too, and Israel shares / shared those "equals" with the US for decades.

Israel and the US are pooling their scientific and technologic brainpower to find and develop new technologies, new designed electronics for industry and weaponry, searching together for alternative energy sources under a bill passed by the House and now wending its way through the Senate. The US-Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation has a lot of work to do, and little Israel puts the same amount of money as the great US. At the same time Israel professionals are devoting to the projects in the partnership no less than the US professionals.

Western Europe, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan got each one of them hundreds of times more aid and support than Israel through its 60 years (the military systematic aid started only in 68').

Israel gave the US a lot of products and know-how that can be measured economically. I'm sure when one as you checking the balance between both you neglect to mention some huge Israeli contribution to the US:
A. Military know-how and technologies. High sophisticated electronic devices, missiles, radars, avionics, ammunition, personal military equipment etc.
B. Intelligence – as long as the USSR existed, Israel was the main source of reliable intelligence, mainly technical intelligence, about the "second world" military, economy enterprises. Not to mention that it is still important to deal with today's Russia, and still Israel leads.
C. It is very important for the information's receiver – aka, for the US, to match its new equipments, armament, tactics and policy against the real threats developed by the enemy and at the same time to shorten the decision's making process in order to shorten the time until being ready militarily to counter the threat. All those complicated activity and technically inventions cost lot of money, which Israel expended from her own economic resources.
This kind of partnership is yet existing but not only facing the Russia threat alone but against Islamic extreme groups and countries that give them a shelter.

Israel national economy is one of the more stable national economies. Israel is well developed country which its economy grows well and fast for the last years although the Intifada. Israel is highly educated and professional and most of the outsiders don't really know Israel for real.
Israel has long been on the cutting edge of research and development in advanced technologies. A country of very limited natural and financial resources, as yet not at peace with some of its neighbors, Israel's scientists and engineers have been constantly faced with the challenge of quickly devising new and innovative solutions, such as drip irrigation (in response to the country's limited water resources) or the Merkava tank / "Arrow" missiles (as part of a wider effort to develop a home-grown defense industry). History and geography have made Israelis adept at identifying problems, finding solutions, and shortening the development process to turn them into commercial products.
Over the last decade, Israel's R&D prowess has rapidly expanded out of the military sphere, the universities and research institutes, where it was originally concentrated, to create what is widely acknowledged as a model high technology economy. Israel is second only to the United States on a per capita basis in its ability to generate new, technology-based companies with innovative, market-focused products.
It is the very strategic interest of the US to keep close relations with Israel as a huge source of scientific and technology knowledge and political advantages. Without Israel the stance of the US against the Islamic and the ME oil states would have been weaker. Israel support for the US is many times greater than the difference of their size.

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