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  • A JSF? That Will Be $200 Million, Sir
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 6:47 AM on Oct 01, 2008

    The Defense Security Cooperation Agency has notified Congress of Israel's interest in the Joint Strike Fighter. According to the DSCA, Israel wants permission to order 25 F-35As off the bat, with options on 50 more aircraft, which could be F-35As or short take-off, vertical landing F-35Bs.

    The initial 25 aircraft look a lot like a "silver bullet" force, and it's a safe bet that they are being acquired primarily as stealthy, high-precision strike airplanes.

    The total value of the package - including support, equipment, training and spares, but no weapons - could be as high as $15.2 billion if all options are exercised - more than $200 million per aircraft. Naturally, that's a good deal higher than the $60-million-some figures cited in many JSF briefings, because "flyaway" costs are seldom more than a fraction of the real price tag.

    It is also more comparable (although comparisons are dangerous) with package deals like the sale of 72 Typhoons to Saudi Arabia, which had an initial value of GBP4.4 billion ($7.8 billion), or the AUS6 billion ($4.8 billion) contract for Australia's 24 Super Hornets.

    Also interesting is the inclusion of "unique systems or sovereign requirements; reprogramming center, [and] hardware/software In-the-loop laboratory capability". The Israelis have clearly asked for, and been granted, the right to modify their JSFs in-country, and to incorporate their own hardware, probably including weapons. Israel's A-models will also include external fuel tanks, which so far are not planned for clearance on US and other F-35As.

    Tags: ar99, jsf, israel

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