Selling F-22s in the Mideast? It’s still illegal and expensive

WASHINGTON — There have been several requests from Israel to be allowed to purchase the F-22 Raptor. Even in 2020, the then US President Mr. Donald Trump approved such a sale, at least according to media reports.

Selling F-22s in the Mideast? It's still illegal and expensive
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The reason Israel wants the F-22 Raptor most likely lies in the US decision to sell the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II to the United Arab Emirates [UAE]. Either way, according to Washington policy, Israel is a country of primary importance to the US. If F-35s fly over Abu Dhabi, Israel should continue to outperform its neighbors. Therefore, a sale of F-22 sounds more than logical.

The US and Israel have not always had such an entrenched relationship. In the 1960s, for example, Israel did not receive the best American weapons. But then in June of ’67, the Arab states went to war with Israel. Its consequences were quite disturbing. Washington found that some Arab countries were already allying with the USSR, which meant reducing Washington’s control in the region. Then the USA changed its policy towards Israel abruptly, and from then until now the Israelis have not been deprived of anything related to the original American developments. Israel is and remains the largest user of American weapons.

Unknown: F-22 Raptor covered with a mosaic of reflective material
Photo credit: Santos Caceres

However, the F-22 Raptor cannot end up in Israel. Despite Mr. Trump’s campaign and publicity stunt, the sale of the F-22 Raptor outside the US is illegal. This was voted back in 1988 with a congressional decision to ban the sale of the F-22.

Such a reason can always be circumvented. A midterm election that shifts the layers of influence in the House of Representatives and Congress is always overcome. Laws are passed, changed, renewed, or repealed.

But the main reason is money. The F-22 Raptor has been out of production since 2009. Production has been stopped. According to financiers as well as military experts, if production of the F-22 Raptor were to resume, the money that would be spent would be more than the money needed to develop and mass-produce a brand new next-generation fighter.

There have been reports presented to Congress that if production resumed, one fighter would cost up to $216 million. Lockheed Martin will simply be forced not only to resume production but also to modernize it. At this time, the Air Force has no plans to resume production of the F-22 Raptor.

US sends F-22s to Crete for joint missions with Greek Air Force
Photo credit: Pixabay

And the third reason – is inventory. With a prohibitive law, non-resumable production remains for the US to sell second-hand F-22 Raptors. Even if they are in excellent condition, there are dozens of them operational today, not the 130 built years ago.

Israel will not get the F-22 Raptor. And Mr. Trump’s actions were nothing more than a poorly orchestrated publicity campaign.


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