Here’s What You Need To Remember: Congressman David Obey was worried that some of the sensitive and secretive technologies that went into developing the F-22 could be discovered and reverse-engineered by enemies of the United States if the U.S. were to export the airframe. In particular, the stealth characteristics unique to the plane.

Israel gets a large amount of defense aid from the United States in the form of both cash, weapons, and weapons platforms — but why doesn’t Israel have the F-22 stealth fighter?

American Weapons in Israeli Hands

Perhaps the most prominent example of American-Israeli cooperation is the Israeli version of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, which Israel — and Israel alone — is allowed to modify to better fit Israeli requirements for the Middle East.

But aside from the stealthy platform, Israel also operates a huger number of other American airframes. According to Lockheed Martin, Israel has acquired over 300 F-16s since the mid-1990’s when Israel started purchasing American surplus — making the Israeli fleet the largest in the world outside of the United States Air Force.

Considering such tight military cooperation between the United States in both technology and joint exercises, why have they been unable to get their hands on the much-vaunted F-22 platform, likely the stealthiest aircraft ever created?

Stealthiest Bird in the Sky

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is operated by the U.S. Air Force, and is arguably the world’s “most advanced manned combat aircraft.” It is stealthier than the F-35 Lightning II, which has been exported to a number of U.S. allies in both Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, most notably to Japan and Israel.

It was originally designed to counter aircraft in the Soviet Union’s arsenal in air-to-air combat, and therefore “exploits the latest developments in stealth technology to reduce detection by enemy radar, as well as thrust-vectoring engines for more maneuverability, and avionics that fuse and display information from on-board and off-board sensors in a single battlefield display.”

Obey

The F-22’s export was sunk due to the so-called “Obey Amendment.”

Congressman David Obey was worried that some of the sensitive and secretive technologies that went into developing the F-22 could be discovered and reverse-engineered by enemies of the United States if the U.S. were to export the airframe. In particular, the stealth characteristics unique to the plane.

In 1998 he added an amendment to the 1998 Department of Defense Appropriations Act. His amendment was a single sentence, and read, “none of the funds made available in this Act may be used to approve or license the sale of F-22 advanced tactical fighter to any foreign government.”

Back in the USSR

During the F-22’s development (the Advanced Tactical Fighter program), the U.S. Air Force initially estimated they would purchase a whopping 750 of the program’s fighters, but today has only 187 airframes.

On top of the Obey Amendment, the F-22 program was hindered by any real threat to use F-22s against. The F-22 was designed to counter advanced fighters from the Soviet Union. With the breakup of the Soviet Union and the United States’ moment of unipolarity, there just wasn’t a need for the advanced fighter.

Caleb Larson is a defense writer for the National Interest. He holds a Master of Public Policy and covers U.S. and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture. This article first appeared earlier this year.

Image: Wikipedia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Carriers or Battleships? The Navy Once Thought ‘Why Not Both?’

Here’s What You Need to Remember: Every Japanese carrier converted from a battleship was lost during the war. Three out of the four British conversions met the same fate, as did USS Lexington and Independence-class carrier USS Princeton.  Converting battleships offered…

China and Russia are Iran’s Best Hope of Getting Modern Fighter Jets

Here’s What You Need to Remember: Frustrated for decades in its attempts to buy new fighters, Iran might have no choice but to endlessly upgrade old planes. But there are limits to what upgrades can achieve. An F-4 with a better…

A Jet Seaplane? The Navy Had One (Sort Of)

The first few years after World War II were challenging ones for the U.S. Navy. Massive demobilization of personnel and rapid scrapping or retirement of ships created internal disruptions. Formation of a new Defense Department, combined with sharp reductions in…

The Grenade: An Explosive History

Key Point: Tactically, the grenade came into its own in World War I. When did humanity begin throwing explosive devices? By the early 13th century, the Chinese and the heirs to their technology, the Mongols, were using effective incendiaries such as…