Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II single-seat fighter made
flight this past Friday. The F-35 is the production version of the X-35
Joint Strike Fighter prototype which was selected over the competing Boeing
The flight marked the culmination of a five-year gestation
period and was for the most part successful. "The Lightning II performed
beautifully," said F-35 Chief Pilot Jon Beesley. The flight was scheduled
to last an hour, but was ended after just 38 minutes. An in-flight glitch took
place in which an air data probe flashed a warning in the cockpit. As a result,
“gear-up" testing was not performed during the flight. "We designed
the aircraft with redundancy so if one of the sensors is out we can fly with
the other one. That part worked just fine," said Beesley.
There will be three distinct versions of the plane in the
$276.6 billion USD program. Prices will range from $45 million USD per plane
for the F-35A to $60 million per plane for the F-35C.
The F-35A is the smallest/lightest of the bunch and will be
put into service by the US Air Force. It is destined to replace the F-16 and
A-10 (oh how we will miss the GAU-8/A Avenger).
The F-35B is the STOVL variant which will replace the AV-8 Harrier currently in
service with the US Marine Corps. The F-35C will be used by the US Navy where
it will replace the F-18A/B/C/D.
The United States is currently partnered with Australia, Great
Britain, Canada, Denmark, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway and Turkey on the F-35 program. Other
countries including Israel and Singapore are also interested in the F-35
Given all the news surrounding the success of unmanned aerial vehicles
(UAVs), it would be interesting to see if Lockheed's proposed pilot-less variant of the
F-35 will ever see the light of day -- if only in prototype form.
"The United States has always supported Israel at the UN and can be counted upon to veto any resolutions that are critical."
Many people believe the United States can always be relied upon to support Israel with its veto in the UN Security Council. The historical record, however, shows that the U.S. has often opposed Israel in the Council.
In 1990, for example, Washington voted for a Security Council resolution condemning Israel's handling of the Temple Mount riot earlier that month. While singling out “the acts of violence committed by Israeli security forces,” the resolution omitted mention of the Arab violence that preceded it.
In December 1990, the U.S. went along with condemning Israel for expelling four leaders of Hamas, an Islamic terrorist group. The deportations came in response to numerous crimes committed by Hamas against Arabs and Jews, the most recent of which had been the murders of three Israeli civilians in a Jaffa factory several days earlier. The resolution did not say a word about Hamas and its crimes. It described Jerusalem as “occupied” territory, declared that Palestinians needed to be “protected” from Israel and called on contracting parties of the Geneva Convention to ensure Israel's compliance. It was the first time the Security Council invoked the Convention against a member country.
In January 1992, the U.S. supported a one-sided resolution condemning Israel for expelling 12 Palestinians, members of terrorist groups that were responsible for perpetrating violence against Arab and Jew alike. The resolution, which described Jerusalem as “occupied” territory, made no mention of the events that triggered the expulsions — the murders of four Jewish civilians by Palestinian radicals since October.
In 1996, the U.S. went along with a Saudi-inspired condemnation of Israel for opening a tunnel in "the vicinity" of the al-Aksa mosque. In fact, the tunnel, which allows visitors to see the length of the western wall of the Temple Mount, is nowhere near the mosque. Israel was blamed for reacting to violent attacks by Palestinians who protested the opening of the tunnel.
The United States did not cast its first veto until 1972, on a Syrian-Lebanese complaint against Israel. From 1967-72, the U.S. supported or abstained on 24 resolutions, most critical of Israel. From 1973-2003, the Security Council adopted approximately 100 resolutions on the Middle East, again, most critical of Israel. The U.S. vetoed a total of 37 resolutions and, hence, supported the Council's criticism of Israel by its vote of support, or by abstaining, roughly two-thirds of the time.12
In July 2002, the United States shifted its policy and announced that it would veto any Security Council resolution on the Middle East that did not condemn Palestinian terror and name, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade as the groups responsible for the attacks. The U.S. also said that resolutions must note that any Israeli withdrawal is linked to the security situation, and that both parties must be called upon to pursue a negotiated settlement (Washington Post, July 26, 2002). The Arabs can still get around the United States by taking issues to the General Assembly, where nonbinding resolutions pass by majority vote, and support for almost any anti-Israel resolution is assured.