President Barack Obama refused a request by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a stealth variant of the F-15E fighter-jet, diplomatic sources said.
Netanyahu failed to win Obama’s agreement to approve the export of U.S. offensive systems, including combat jets and helicopters produced by Boeing.
“Netanyahu asked that the United States expedite the export of military equipment and allow Boeing to export the stealth F-15 as part of the Foreign Military Sales program,” a diplomatic source, briefed on the July 6 meeting at the White House, said. “Obama did not reply.”
A key request was for Obama to grant Israel access to Boeing’s proposed F-15 stealth variant, called Silent Eagle and unveiled in 2009. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia have expressed interest in the stealth design, but the Obama administration has ordered the closure of the F-15 production line as the Defense Department prepares for the introduction of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
They said Obama warned Israel against any military strike on Iran and stressed that Washington would resolve Iran’s nuclear threat through a mixture of sanctions and diplomacy.
“Israel wants the stealth F-15 as its next aircraft, but Washington wants Israel to buy the F-35 ahead of every other international partner,” the source said.
The sources said Obama also urged Netanyahu to accept Palestinian Authority conditions for the resumption of direct negotiations. One of the demands submitted by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was for Israel to agree to a full withdrawal from the West Bank before talks begin.
For his part, Netanyahu maintained that the alliance between Israel and the United States continued to be “stable and strong.”
Speaking to the Cabinet on July 11, the prime minister said his meeting with Obama included discussions on Iran, Palestinians and efforts to force Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Israeli premier did not report any agreement with the president.
“I gained the impression that the president is also attentive to the state of Israel’s special security needs,” Netanyahu said. “On these issues, we are working in concert.”
On July 10, the Silent Eagle completed its maiden flight in a demonstration of the F-15′s stealth capabilities. Read story here.
- World Tribune