Biden admin mulls whopping $18B arms package for Israel — report

The US is contemplating sale of advanced F-15 aircraft to Israel, equipped with potent engines, long-range radar, automated weapons systems, and 3,000-mile range. (Photo/AFP)

The Biden administration is weighing whether to go ahead with a major $18 billion package of arms transfers to Israel that would involve dozens of F-15 aircraft and munitions, three sources familiar with the matter have told the Reuters news agency.

The sale of 25 F-15s from Boeing to Israel has been under review since the United States received the formal request in January 2023, one of the sources said.

Speeding up the delivery of the aircraft was among the top asks by Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant who visited Washington last week and held talks with US officials including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the second source said.

Gallant told reporters he had stressed with senior US officials the importance of maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region, including its air capabilities.

House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Michael McCaul gave the green light for the sale on January 30, a committee aide said, when the relevant congressional offices responsible for approving major arms transfers were notified.

"Administration-Congressional deliberations on the F-15 case have already occurred," the second source familiar with the matter said, but added that some of the four offices required to sign off on any arms transfers had yet to do so.

Support to Israel

US law requires Congress to be notified of major foreign military sales agreements, and an informal review process allows the Democratic and Republican leaders of foreign affairs committees to vet such agreements before formal notification to Congress.

The package includes a large number of F-15 aircraft, aircraft munitions and a number of support services, training, maintenance, sustainment and many years of contractor support during the lifecycle of the aircraft, which could typically go for up to two decades, according to one of the sources.

A third source said the Biden administration had expressed support to Israel for its F-15 request.

Washington has publicly expressed concern about Israel's anticipated military offensive in Rafah, the southernmost city of Gaza where more than 1.5 million Palestinians have taken shelter after being displaced due to Israel's nearly six-month-old Gaza assault.

Washington doles out $3.8 billion in annual military aid to its longtime ally Israel, and the administration has so far resisted calls to condition any arms transfers even though senior US officials have criticised Israel over the high civilian death toll.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Israeli embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Source: TRT