The Israeli Defense Force will increase its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet by 50% following the Ministry of Defense’s approval of a recommendation to the Israeli Air Force and other Defense leaders for purchase of 25 more aircraft. The Ministry did not forecast the schedule for the new acquisitions.
In addition to expanding its defense and fighter capability, the approximately $3-billion acquisition will continue the Israeli defense manufacturing sector’s role in the F-35 program, the largest defense manufacturing program in the world.
A previous agreement between the Israeli and U.S. governments authorizes Lockheed and F-135 engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney to incorporate Israeli defense manufacturers into their production programs for aircraft and engine components. Such arrangements will continue as the next series of aircraft are procured and delivered.
“The new agreement will ensure the continuation of cooperation between American companies and Israeli defense industries in the production of aircraft parts,” according to statement by Israel’s MoD.
As detailed by the MoD, the purchase will be financed by U.S. military aid to Israel. The Ministry’s mission to the U.S. will issue a letter of request to the Dept. of Defense F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office, which will manage the sale authorization and signing of the transaction.
The F-35 is a single-engine, Stealth-enabled aircraft deployed for ground attack and combat, and available in three variants: F-35A, for conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL); F-35B, for short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL); and the F-35C, carrier-based variant for Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) variant.
With a third F-35 squadron, the IDF will have 75 of the Lockheed Martin-built fighter aircraft available. Currently, the IDF has 36 specially modified F-35A jets in service, referred to as the F-35I Adir.
In addition to the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Navy, F-35 aircraft are in service with nine other nations’ defense forces, and eight more nations have requested to purchase the fighters.