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April 6, 2016 10:13 am

Israel Air Force Chief Warns of Dangers in Losing Military Edge Over Arab States

avatar by Lea Speyer

Brigadier-General Tal Kelman. Photo: IAF.

Brigadier-General Tal Kelman. Photo: IAF.

Israel’s qualitative military edge is threatened as Arab states purchase weapons from other countries, the commander of the Israel Air Force (IAF) said on Sunday, Reuters reported.

In remarks aimed at gaining support for Israel’s purchase of the US-made F-35 fighter jet, IAF Chief of Staff Brigadier-General Tal Kelman told the International Air Conference, sponsored by Israel Defense and the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv, “There are countries here which have plans that are being actualized for arms deals in the hundreds of billions of dollars, for the most advanced Western weaponry and the most advanced Eastern weaponry.”

The increase in Western and Russian arms aid to Arab allies, according to Kelman, is posing a great threat to Israel’s military superiority in the region.

The US is currently supplying offensive and defensive advanced weaponry to Gulf states, Reuters noted, following the signing of the Iran nuclear deal and as part of an effort to combat ISIS. According to figures released by the State Department, the US sold $33 billion worth of weapons to its Gulf allies in the last year. Egyptian officials, too, have expressed interest in acquiring advanced Russian arms, as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has access to Russia’s S-300 and S-400 air defense systems deployed in the war-torn country.

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“There is a very great danger here, because today’s enemy can be tomorrow’s friend, and today’s friend could be tomorrow’s enemy,” Kelman said, adding, “There is potential here for the erosion of the IDF’s qualitative edge and the IAF’s qualitative edge.”

The US provides Israel with some $3 billion in military aid annually. The sum is set to expire in 2018 and Israeli officials are lobbying Washington to increase aid to $4.5 billion.

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