Israel is reportedly seeking to procure F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets from the U.S., according to reports citing Israeli defense officials.
Haaretz reported that the Israeli defense officials is seeking to buy the F-22 jets to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region after the US agreed to sell F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Trump Administration recently approved a potential sale of up to 50 F-35A Lightning II fighter jets to UAE for $10.4 billion following the submission a formal request by the country. UAE’s request came after the signing of a diplomatic agreement by UAE with Israel last month and Israel’s announcement that it will not oppose the U.S. sale of “certain weapon systems” to UAE.
Under American law, Israel is guaranteed weapons needed to maintain its “qualitative military edge” over Arab nations. Israel operates its unique F-35I “Adir” version of the F-35A aircraft.
Israel had previously expressed interest in buying the F-22, but was declined by the U.S.
The sale of F-22s to Israel will not be easy as the export of the advanced fighter jet, essentially the world’s best, is currently barred by a federal law enacted by the U.S. Congress due to concerns that the advanced technology may fall into the hands of Russia or China if the aircraft were sold abroad. So, an overturn of the current law is necessary for the sale.
Moreover, the production of the fighter was halted in 2011 with the last F-22 delivered to the U.S. Air Force in 2012. USAF has a total of around 180 production F-22A Raptor jets in its inventory. With a reported low availability rate, the number of combat-coded F-22s at a given time will be considerably low.
The F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation, single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Air Force (USAF).
The aircraft was developed for the USAF’s Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program and was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but also has ground attack, electronic warfare (EW), and signals intelligence (SIGINT) capabilities.
The prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, built most of the F-22’s airframe and weapons systems and conducted final assembly, while Boeing provided the wings, aft fuselage, avionics integration, and training systems.
Service officials had originally planned to buy a total of 750 ATFs. In 2009, the program was cut to 187 operational production aircraft due to high costs, a lack of clear air-to-air missions due to delays in Russian and Chinese fighter programs, a ban on exports, and development of the more versatile F-35.