Israel Leery of Sales to Saudi Arabia

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - The Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) concern about the sale of fighter jets to Saudi Arabia prompted two high-ranking Israeli defense officials to meet with Pentagon officials in the past two weeks.

Israeli Defense Ministry Director-General Pinhas Buchris met with US officials two weeks ago, and Major General (res.) Amos Gilad, who heads the ministry's Diplomatic Military Bureau, followed a week later.

Last June, acting US deputy undersecretary of defense Beth McCormick, who led the Pentagon delegation, met with Gilad to allay Israeli concerns over the sale of JDAMS (Joint Direct Attack Munitions), known as "smart bombs" and manufactured by Boeing, to Saudi Arabia.

Reports about Saudi Arabia's request to purchase Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter jets are Israel's latest cause for concern, writes Jerusalem Post correspondent Yaakov Katz.

"The Saudis want the plane. They always look for top-of-the-line technology, and the Americans will have difficulty saying no," one senior defense official told Katz.

The possible sale of stealth fighter jets to Saudi Arabia prompted Buchris and Gilad to present the Pentagon with a "shopping list" of military weaponry, which would keep Israel's qualitative edge in the region.

Topping the list is the F-22 Raptor, the most advanced stealth fighter in the world, which among other things, can avoid radar detection. Foreign sales of the fighter jet are under congressional ban because of the Iranian pursuit of nuclear bombs.

Part of the discussion involved integrating Israeli defense industries in the F-22's production to install its own technology, as it has with the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon, a point of contention resolved in the latest meetings.

"We have closed up the JSF [Joint Strike Fighter] issue, including getting the info on the plane and integrating technology," one defense official said. "The Americans know that we will safeguard and protect their interests," he said.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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