Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Tel Aviv - After nearly eight years of politically charged evaluation and negotiation, followed by acrimonious cost-benefit deliberations within the Israeli Cabinet, it is now official: The Israel Air Force will become the first non-partner nation to fly the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Under a Pentagon-proposed Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) signed Oct. 7 by Israeli Maj. Gen. (res.) Udi Shani, MoD Director-General, Israel will acquire the first 20 U.S. Air Force-configuration F-35Is, beginning in 2015
The entire package is priced at $2.75 billion and includes engines, simulators, spare parts and maintenance; all of which will be funded over several years through annual U.S. military assistance. In a prepared statement, MoD noted that flyaway cost for each of the 20 aircraft and their engines, once non-recurring development costs are subtracted, translates into $96 million per plane.
"This is an historic event; a new era for defensive and strategic might of Israel and the preservation of its military edge against challenges near and far for many years to come," Shani said at the Oct. 7 signing ceremony.
Shani said the acquisition was tremendously important to Israel's national economy, given commitments by prime contractor Lockheed Martin and other major industry partners to grant "billions of dollars" worth of related work to local industry.
The top MoD executive added that Israel intended to purchase additional JSF squadrons. "It's not for nothing that we have options for additional aircraft," Shani said.
He was referring to the Pentagon's original notification to Congress, as well as a side industrial participation agreement with Lockheed Martin, that allows for Israeli purchase of up to 75 of the fifth-generation stealth aircraft.
"We're very pleased with the government of Israel's decision to move forward with the [LOA] for the F-35," said Tom Burbage, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and general manager of F-35 program integration.
Lockheed noted that Israel will be the first foreign military sales customer for the F-35.
"This is another step in the longstanding relationship between Lockheed Martin and the nation of Israel. The Lightning II will strengthen Israel's national security posture both militarily and industrially."
U.S. participants in the event at MoD's Purchasing Mission in New York City were Heidi Grant, deputy Air Force undersecretary for international affairs; Vice Adm. David Venlet, JSF program executive officer; Karen Garvey from the Defense Security and Cooperation Agency and Ralph Heath of prime contractor Lockheed Martin.
Meanwhile in "News of the future": Iran's nuclear facilities blow up suddenly, seemingly by themselves.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 2:13 PM
(CNN) -- The second edition of an online al Qaeda magazine has surfaced with frank essays, creatively designed imagery and ominous terror tips such as using a pickup truck as a weapon and shooting up a crowded restaurant in Washington.
The magazine is called "Inspire" and intelligence officials believe that an American citizen named Samir Khan, now living in Yemen, is the driving force behind the publication.
The latest edition was emerged on the 10th anniversary of the suicide attack on the guided missile destroyer USS Cole -- struck as it refueled in Aden, Yemen. The first edition came out in July.
Christopher Boucek, a Yemen expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the timing is no coincidence.
"It also comes on the heels of a busy week for al Qaeda in Yemen. They released an hourlong video last week. There was also an attack on a British Convoy in Sanaa [Yemen's capital] last week. And an audiotape was released two days ago. Al Qaeda in Yemen is good at amplifying its message and that shows the organization is still active, that they're still able to function," he said.
An article titled "The Ultimate Mowing Machine" calls for using a pickup truck as a "mowing machine, not to mow grass but mow down the enemies of Allah."
The article says that such a plan could be implemented in countries where people back the "Israeli occupation of Palestine, the American invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq or countries that had a prominent role in the defamation of Muhammad."
It said a four-wheel-drive pickup truck is needed -- "the stronger the better."
"To achieve maximum carnage, you need to pick up as much speed as you can while still retaining good control of your vehicle in order to maximize your inertia and be able to strike as many people as possible in your first run," the article says.
Another tip in the magazine includes the use of firearms.
"For this choose the best location. A random hit at a crowded restaurant in Washington DC at lunch hour, for example, might end up knocking out a few government employees.
"Targeting such employees is paramount and the location would also give the operation additional media attention."
An idea in the first edition, "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom," is touched on again.
"The pressurized cooker should be placed in crowded areas and left to blow up. More than one of these could be planted to explode at the same time. However, keep in mind that the range of the shrapnel in this operation is short range so the pressurized cooker or pipe should be placed close to the intended targets and should not be concealed from them by barriers such as walls."
Adam Raisman, senior analyst at SITE Intelligence Group, said the "very well-presented magazine" covers a variety of topics, is meant to reach a wider audience, and tries to be tongue-in-cheek in its presentation.
"The magazine has suggestions, ideology it attempts to instill in the reader, and it includes tips for technology," Raisman said.
Boucek said the "big takeaway" is that the magazine is focusing on what the individual can do.
"The message to the lone actor is to be patient -- that you can do it -- you can participate in this," he said.
There are writings in the magazine by Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who U.S. authorities have linked to the failed attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound jetliner in December. Samir Khan wrote an article titled "I Am Proud to be a Traitor to America."
There is also recycled material. The latest issue includes recent commentary from Adam Yahiye Gadahn, who is an American, about President Barack Obama.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 11:53 AM