Pentagon forces Israel out of fighter jet bid

Sunday, July 05, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

Pressure from the Pentagon has forced Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to drop out of competition for a multi-billion dollar tender to supply India with a fleet of new fighter jets.

India will pay an estimated $12 billion for 120 new aircraft, and US, Russian and European arms contractors are vigorously fighting for the contract.

Swedish manufacturer Saab had also wanted to compete by offering an advanced version of their Gripen multi-role fighter, but wanted IAI to help them bring the plane's electronic systems in line with those of their competitors.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Pentagon responded by complaining to Israel's Defense Ministry that IAI's involvement could result in American technologies used by Israel reaching the hands of the Indians.

Israeli commentators noted the hypocrisy of that statement since the US contractors bidding on the contract would be using the same technologies, and said the Pentagon's reaction was more likely a means of eliminating the US contractors' main competition.

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