Israel’s Use of the F-35 Benefits the US

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Yoram Ettinger

Yoram Ettinger

A recent mega-billion-dollar increase in the export of Lockheed-Martin’s F-35 combat aircraft is due to overcoming a series of pivotal glitches. This was achieved by Lockheed-Martin, as well as by Israel’s air force and aerospace industries, known as a cost-effective and battle-tested laboratory for the U.S. defense and aerospace industries and armed forces.

In June 2016, Israel became the first country to use the highly-computerized F-35 operationally. Israel soon became successful in solving initial glitches that caused concern among prospective buyers.


The battle-tested Israeli laboratory — which communicates 24/7 with Lockheed-Martin (as it does with a litany of U.S. defense contractors — solved most of the operational and maintenance glitches by marshaling its intrinsic features, which have been the derivatives of the uniquely challenging and threatening Middle East environment: Optimism, patriotism, defiance of odds, out-of-the-box thinking, risk-taking, do-or-die state of mind and a can-do and frontier-pioneering mentality.

The scores of Israeli solutions to the F-35 glitches — in the areas of data gathering and processing, electronic warfare and firing control accuracy — have been shared with the U.S. manufacturer and the U.S. Air Force, sustaining the F-35’s superiority over its global competition, sparing Lockheed-Martin billions of dollars in research and development, enhancing the manufacturer’s competitive edge, increasing exports by a few additional billions and expanding the employment base of Lockheed-Martin and its multitude of subcontractors.

The critical upgrades in the current F-35 — achieved by the manufacturer and its Israeli battle-tested laboratory — have produced a combat aircraft that is substantially superior to the original generation.

In fact, the enhanced performance of the F-35 demonstrates Israel’s role as an important source of U.S. weaponry modernization, reduction of unit cost and job creation in the U.S.
Similar mega-billion-dollar benefits to the U.S. economy and defense have been generated by the hundreds of Israeli solutions and add-ons, which have upgraded the performance of the technologically less-challenging F-16 (Lockheed-Martin) and F-15 (Boeing). In fact, all U.S. manufacturers of military systems employed by Israel have benefited similarly.

Moreover, some 250 commercial U.S. high-tech giants have established research and development centers in Israel, leveraging Israel’s brain power and innovative spirit to sustain their global lead, yielding a consequential increase in global sales.

The U.S. defense and aerospace industries established their own Israeli research and development centers through the hundreds of U.S. military systems, which are employed — and systematically improved — by the Israel Defense Forces, yielding consequential benefits to the U.S. economy and defense.

In 2023, the world features an ineffective NATO, a vacillating Europe, a turbulent Arab Street, intensifying anti-U.S. Sunni and Shiite Islamic terrorism, an imperialistic Iran with a solid strategic foothold in Central and South America, and a U.S. attempt to minimize its military presence in the Middle East.

The Middle East is a major junction of world trade and energy resources and an epicenter of anti-U.S. Islamic terrorism, global drug trafficking and proliferation of ballistic and nuclear technologies, all of which constitute a clear and present threat to U.S. national and homeland security.

Under such circumstances, Israel is the U.S.’s most reliable, battle-tested and cost-effective ally, as well as a potential beachhead in the face of mutual threats and mutual challenges.
As stated by the late Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and Gen. Alexander Haig, Israel is the largest U.S. aircraft carrier that does not require U.S. military personnel on board, cannot be sunk, is deployed in a critical area of the world and spares the U.S. the need to manufacture, deploy and maintain real aircraft carriers along with ground divisions, which would cost the US $15-20 billion annually.

Israel shares with the U.S. more intelligence than shared by all NATO countries combined. According to Gen. George Keagan, who was head of U.S. Air Force intelligence, the scope of Israeli intelligence gained by the U.S. is equal to the output of five CIAs.

Israel’s battle experience has been shared with the U.S., saving American lives by serving as a basis for the formulation of U.S. air and ground force battle tactics, enhancing military medicine and training U.S. soldiers in urban warfare and facing car bombs, suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices.

Given the aforementioned data, the annual $3.8 billion extended to Israel (to purchase only U.S. military systems) does not constitute “foreign aid.” It is an annual U.S. investment in an immensely grateful Israel, yielding to the U.S. an annual return of a few hundred percent. It is the most productive and secure U.S. investment, underlying the mutually beneficial U.S.-Israel two-way street.

Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative. This was originally published by The Ettinger Report.

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