Pentagon Official Says IAF 'Very Aggressive' in Negotiations Over Fighter Jet Purchase

Defense News article says IAF underestimated cost of 75 F-35 jets, leading to tension with IDF, Pentagon.

A United States government official accussed Israel Air Force representatives of being "very aggressive" in negotiations over a planned purchase of dozens of fighter jets.

In an article this week in the weekly magazine Defense News, the U.S. official said the Israelis were "very agressive in their demands, and their list of requests was extremely extensive?they need to pick through the menu of options and separate the nice-to-have from the need-to-have."

The state-of-the-art fighter jet the IAF is seeking to acquire, the F-35 is expected to cost $200 million per unit, as opposed to the $80 million that the IAF had originally estimated, leading to tension between IAF and Israel Defense Forces officials and defense officials in the United States.

Details of the planned purchase were printed in the Defense News article, including revelations the IAF has sought to purchase 75 F-35s, in three shipments of 25 jets each. However, since only $2 billion was set aside for the first purchase, the IAF will only be able to purchase 10 jets in the first shipment, if the $200 million estimated price per unit is correct.

Defense News quoted an official in the IDF General Staff as saying that "It's unbelievable, first it was $40 million to $50 million, and then they [the IAF] told us $70 million to $80 million. Now, we're looking at nearly three times that amount, and who's to say it won't continue to climb?"

The article also stated that the Pentagon estimates total costs for the 75-aircraft purchase to run as high as $15.2 billion, which includes the 75 aircraft, training and logistics support, and the plethora of upgrades and add-ons requested.

A Lockheed Martin official is quoted in the article as saying the higher-than-expected price tag is based on the special add-ons and upgrades requested by the IAF.