Pentagon Notifies Congress of $1.9B in potential orders
TEL AVIV — The US government has cleared a US $1.9 billion package for the Israeli Air Force to replenish its precision-guided munitions (PGMs).
The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency reported the potential foreign military sale (FMS) on Tuesday, a day after it notified Congress of the preapproved munitions requested by the Israeli government.
According to the Pentagon agency, the package includes 14,500 tail kits for Joint Direct Attack Munitions in sizes ranging from 500 pounds to 2,000 pounds. Additionally, the Israelis have requested 4,100 250-pound GBU-39 small diameter bombs, a variety of Paveway laser-guided bomb kits, some 3,000 Hellfire missiles and 250 AIM-120C Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles.
The Pentagon notice did not specify Israel's need to replenish stocks expended during last summer's Gaza war, during which the Israel Air Force dropped an estimated 100 tons of munitions during the 50-day campaign.
Rather, it noted that the proposed sale would provide for Israel's self-defense needs.
"These munitions will enable Israel to maintain operational capability of its existing systems and will enhance Israel's interoperability with the United States."
The statement added that Israel "already has these munitions in its inventory" and "will have no difficulty absorbing the additional munitions into its armed forces."
In an interview last month with Israel's Channel 10, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, Israel Air Force (IAF) commander, said in the next war, his service will be prepared to attack thousands of targets in a 24-hour period.
"We're training for the IAF to attack as many targets as possible in the shortest amount of time. ... To take the correct munitions in the correct time on the correct aircraft, to arm them, to send them, to have them return … and then to do it again and again," Eshel told Channel 10's Alon Ben-David.
"In order to win the war and to do it in a short amount of time, the quantities and the extent needs to be very very big and [the operational tempo] needs to be very very fast," Eshel said.
In its May 19 statement, the Pentagon agency noted that principal contractors for the prospective package include Boeing in St. Charles, Missouri; Lockheed Martin in Archbald, Pennsylvania; General Dynamics in Garland, Texas; Elwood National Forge in Irvine, Pennsylvania; and Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona.
"There are no known offset agreements in connection with this proposed sale," it added.
Israel's last major PGM package was notified to Congress in December 2012, less than a month after Israel's Pillar of Defense campaign in Gaza. That FMS deal, estimated at $647 million, included many of the same items contained in the latest preapproved package, but at less than half the quantities.