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Israeli cabinet approves USD9 bn in new acquisitions

The Israeli cabinet approved a USD 9 billion package for future acquisitions for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on 7 February, clearing the path for long-awaited contracts to replace ageing platforms.

The approval is an ad-hoc budgetary measure as a state budget has not been approved since 2019 and reportedly followed lengthy negotiations between the Ministries of Defense and Finance.

The funding is intended to cover a squadron of new fighters, although it has not been specified whether the Israeli Air Force (IAF) will opt for F-35s or advanced F-15s; Boeing KC-46 aerial refuelling aircraft to replace the existing 707 tankers; and replacements for the ageing Ch-53 Yasur transport helicopters, with the IAF yet to choose between the CH-53K King Stallion or CH-47 Chinook.

Purchases for the Military Intelligence Directorate and the C4i and Cyber Defense Directorate are also reportedly on the agenda, as well as munitions for the IAF.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz has reportedly expressed interest in purchasing V-22 Osprey tiltrotors, although it is unclear if these are covered by the spending approval.

The Israel Hayom Hebrew daily reported that USD7 billion of the money will come from US Foreign Military Financing approved by Washington and an additional USD2.4 from recycling a 2014 loan against future US financial assistance.

Last summer, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced an intention to add ILS3.3 billion (USD1 billion) to the existing defence budget to cover programmes that include the completion of the Gaza underground anti-tunnel and overground barriers, as well as ongoing operations.

The IDF has been seeking government budgetary commitments to its Momentum five-year programme, which was initiated in 2020 and includes ambitious force build-up projects.

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