A third F-35 squadron for the Israeli military air fleet
In a move aimed at consolidating its air defence, Israel announced the acquisition of 25 new F-35I “Adir” fighter-bombers for an amount of around 3 billion dollars. This massive investment comes on top of a previous order for 50 units from Lockheed Martin, the US aerospace and defense giant. Already in possession of 36 operational copies, used in particular for missions over Lebanon and Syria, Israel plans with this new order the creation of a third F-35 squadron.
An investment financed by American military aid
The purchase of the 25 new F-35 jets is essentially financed by American military aid funds. The United States has, in fact, a program of foreign military financing (FMF), which allows them to support their allies in the purchase of American armaments. For Israel, this financial support is considerable since it is estimated at 38 billion dollars for the period 2019-2028. It should be noted that the approval of this new acquisition was pronounced by Yoav Gallant, the Israeli Minister of Defence, following a proposal by the Chief of Staff of the Tsahal, General Herzi Halevi.
Participation of the Israeli defense industry in the production of aircraft
The collaboration between Israel and the United States in the framework of this transaction is not limited to the purchase of the planes. Indeed, the aircraft manufacturers, Lockheed Martin and Pratt&Whitney, have pledged to involve Israeli defense companies in the production of aircraft components. Elbit Systems, for example, is responsible for the production of the electronic warfare systems of these F-35Is, as well as specific external tanks which make it possible to increase their autonomy. In 2022, IAI, another Israeli company, announced that it should produce a total of 811 pairs of wings for the F-35As by 2034, at an estimated cost of around $2 billion.
A purchase process still in progress
Despite the official announcement of this acquisition by Israel, the order has not yet been finalized. Indeed, it must still be the subject of an official letter of request (LoR) addressed to the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) of the Pentagon. It is this step that will facilitate the approval and signing of the transaction in the months to come. It is only after this formality that the exact number of devices and the final price will be negotiated. The participation of the Israeli defense industry in the production of aircraft components should also be specified in detail during these negotiations.