April 3, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Considering Major Military Package for Israel

April 3, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Considering Major Military Package for Israel

Latest Developments

The Biden administration has informally notified Congress of its desire to approve the sale to Israel of as many as 50 new F-15 fighter jets valued at $18 billion, according to media reports this week. The package would be the largest of more than 100 military sales to Israel since October 7. The F-15 aircraft would be accompanied by associated equipment, such as engines, gun systems, radars, and navigation systems, CNN reported, as well as logistical and maintenance support and 25 mid-life upgrades for Israel’s aging current F-15 fleet. If approved, the new aircraft will not arrive in Israel for years. Washington is also weighing whether to approve new sales to Israel of 30 AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles and Joint Direct Attack Munition kits, which convert traditional bombs into precision-guided munitions.

U.S. weapons deliveries to Israel have continued even as the Biden administration’s rhetoric toward Israel has grown more critical. The Biden administration and Israeli officials have engaged in high-level discussions in recent days regarding Israel’s military plans for the southern Gazan city of Rafah, the location of an estimated four largely intact Hamas battalions.

Expert Analysis

“The informal congressional notification process is one of the reasons why U.S. arms sales take so long. As Israel confronts growing threats from Tehran and its terror proxies, approving this sale should be a no-brainer. The foreign relations committees received this informal notification in January, and yet the administration is still waiting for at least one or two of the four committee leaders to approve the sale. Providing rhetorical support for Israel’s right and ability to defend itself is good, but supporting Israel through action is even better.” Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

“This arms sale is absolutely necessary for the Israeli Air Force and contributes to the U.S. economy through the defense industrial base. It is a timely reminder that the United States is the world’s arsenal of democracy and is critical to the survival of beleaguered democracies such as Israel.” RADM (Ret.) Mark Montgomery, FDD Senior Fellow and Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Cyber and Technology

Congressional Review Process for Arms Sales

The cost of the sale requires the administration to notify Congress of the transfer. The Biden administration reportedly sent informal notification to the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations committees in late January. According to the normal congressional review process for arms sales, if there are no objections from the senior Republican and Democrat leaders of the two committees, the State Department will send a formal notification to Congress, which will then have 30 days to block the proposed sale with a joint resolution of disapproval passed by both chambers. Congress has never successfully blocked a formally proposed arms sale with a joint resolution of disapproval, according to the Congressional Research Service.

A More Capable Aircraft

The new version of the aircraft, named the F-15EX by the American manufacturer, is the latest version of a U.S. fighter plane designed during the Cold War. The F-15EX can fly faster and farther carrying a larger payload compared to versions of the F-15 currently flown by the Israeli Air Force. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Israel currently operates three squadrons of F-15s of multiple variants, as well as nine squadrons of F-16 fighters and two squadrons of F-35 fighters.

How to Ensure Israel Has the Weapons It Needs,” by Bradley Bowman and Richard Goldberg

Israeli Defense Minister Visits Washington to Push for Expedited Military Aid,” FDD Flash Brief

Israeli, U.S. Officials to Meet in Washington to Discuss Rafah Operation,” FDD Flash Brief


Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy