Security Cabinet approves additional purchase of F-35 fighter jets

After the Israel Air Force purchased from the US 33 stealth fighter jets, the Israeli Security Cabinet approved a purchase of 17 more jets. Speculations conclude that the motive for this purchase was the heavy Russian Air Force presence in the region, specifically in Syria and Lebanon.
17 more are on their way to Israel Photo Credit: IAF Website/Channel 2 News

The Israeli Security Cabinet unanimously approved the purchase of 17 additional F-35 fighter jets, raising the number of jets purchased from the US to 50 with each one costing an estimated $100 million. The budget for this purchase will come from the additional US aid to Israel. "The government, with my authorization, is working to secure Israel's strength in order to ensure its existence for the coming decades," tweeted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "Israel will be able to defend itself with her own power against any and all enemies."

These advanced stealth fighter jets will be distributed between two IAF squadrons rather than one and a half as was previously planned. It is believed that the reason behind this addition is the significant Russian presence in the region. The IDF is concerned because the Russians are capable of tracking all IAF activity at any moment. More so, a potential future attack on Iran makes these stealth planes even more useful.

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These advanced stealth jets, called within the IAF as "The Mighty," make Israel the first country in the Middle East to hold the most advanced fighter jets. Their official arrival in Israel is expected to occur at the end of the year. In the previous deal, the Israeli Defense Ministry purchased 33 F-35 Fifth Generation Type A advanced fighter jets each costing around $100 million. The first two planes are expected to arrive in Israel next month. The rest of the jets will be supplied to Israel over the years until 2021.

The first contract for 19 jets was signed in 2010 and the second contract for 14 more was signed in 2014, leaving an option to purchase 17 more in the future, which was approved today by the cabinet. Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. created the wings of the jet. Since the Israeli Defense Ministry's 2010 agreement with Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney, the jet and engine manufacturers respectively, over 3 billion NIS in deals have been signed.


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