May 22, 2024

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Israel authorizes the purchase of a new fleet of F-35s from the United States

Israel authorizes the purchase of a new fleet of F-35s from the United States

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday approved the purchase of a third squadron of 25 F-35s from Lockheed Martin, which will eventually bring Israel’s total number to 75 aircraft.

A ministry statement did not mention a timetable, but sources have indicated this in the past Jerusalem Post that even if Israel officially orders this third round of the 25 aircraft sometime in 2023, it could take until 2026-2027 for shipments to arrive.

The F-35 is crucial in MABAM’s “war between wars” against Iran’s proxies in Syria as well as in the event IDf needs to eventually strike Iran’s nuclear program.

What you need to know about the Israeli Air Force’s F-35 stealth fighter

It has stealth technology that makes it more than capable of striking targets throughout the Middle East with impunity and its intelligence and surveillance capabilities far exceed Israel’s aging F-16s and F-15s.

For example, it is said to be easily able to outmaneuver Iran’s S-300 anti-aircraft missile defense system, and possibly even the S-400, while other Israeli aircraft would have more trouble.

Gallant said he approved the purchase on the recommendation of IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Herzi Halevy, Director General of the Defense Ministry Eyal Zamir, and IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar.

A LOCKHEED MARTIN F-35 stealth aircraft performs a flying show at the 54th International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport this week. (Credit: BENOIT TESSIER/REUTERS)

The purchase was delayed due to political instability in Israel

The sources indicated that this purchase could have taken place years ago, but it was held back by political instability due to the many rounds of elections that negatively affected Israel’s ability to draw up long-term budget plans, even for some defense issues.

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Following approval by the Ministers of Defense, the Department’s mission to the United States will issue a formal request letter to the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office (JPO). The ministry said the move will facilitate the approval and signing of the deal in the coming months.

The deal is worth nearly $3 billion, funded by US aid money. As part of the original agreement between the two governments, Lockheed Martin and the engine maker, Pratt & Whitney, committed to having Israeli defense industries involved in the production of components for the aircraft being purchased.

“This new agreement will ensure continued cooperation between American companies and Israeli defense industries in the production of aircraft spare parts,” the ministry said in a statement.

Joshua (Sheki) Shani, CEO of Lockheed Martin Israel, replied, “We are proud to support the IDF in providing the F-35 fighters, and we are honored that the Israeli government has announced its intention to purchase additional F-35s.”

“The IAF has proven its capabilities in critical operations with the 116th and 140th Squadrons, and we look forward to building on this strong performance. With a combination of stealth, sensor fusion and electronic warfare, the fifth generation F-35 will ensure the IAF’s survival against threats current and evolving.

Recent Israeli investments in Air Force reinforcements

At the same time, over the past year, Israel has made some parallel developments and investments in the future of the Air Force.

After years of delays, in January the Department of Defense officially ordered 25 F-15 EX Boeing fighters from the United States to help replace its aging F-15s.

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In November 2022, Israel finalized an agreement to purchase four Boeing KC-46A mid-air refueling aircraft.

Each of these new aircraft elements also a few years after being delivered to Israel, but will also eventually enhance Jerusalem’s ability to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, if necessary.

The F-35’s record wasn’t perfect.

In mid-December 2022, an F-35 crashed in the United States, prompting both America and Israel to ground a large portion of their F-35 fleets.

For a long time, there have been problems with the F-35 cockpit software technology.

However, as of March, a technical fix for the defect that caused the crash in 2022 had been approved and deliveries had resumed.