Biden Administration Presses Congress on $18 Billion Sale of F-15 Jets to Israel

The Biden administration is pressing Congress to approve a plan to sell $18 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Israel, as President Biden resists calls to limit U.S. arms sales to Israel over its military offensive in Gaza.

The State Department recently sent an informal notice to two congressional committees to start a legislative review process for the order, a first step toward the department’s giving formal authorization for the transfer of up to 50 of the planes.

The F-15 order was reported earlier by Politico and CNN and confirmed by two U.S. officials. The deal, which would be one of the largest U.S. arms sales to Israel in years, would also include munitions, training and other support.

Although the United States has expedited some arms for Israel’s current campaign against Hamas, the F-15s would not be delivered for at least five years, the U.S. officials said.

With a top speed of nearly 2,000 miles per hour, the F-15 is capable of both air-to-air combat and bombing targets on the ground. While Israel has used the F-15s it already owns to strike Gaza, its request for the planes appears to reflect longer-term concern about regional threats, including from Lebanon-based Hezbollah, Iran-backed militias in Syria, and Iran itself. The Israel Defense Forces would probably employ F-15s in any potential attack on Iran’s nuclear program.

Israeli officials have also told their U.S. counterparts that Israel is about to place a new order for F-35 jets, a U.S. official said.

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