In a move beneficial for Israel’s military as well as its economy, Jerusalem is purchasing more F-35 fighters from the US.
Israel will purchase 14 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F-35 stealth jets from Lockheed Martin at the cost of approximately $110 million each, the Defense Ministry announced on Sunday.
“The Defense Ministry will purchase an additional 14 F-35s for around $3 billion, each plane costing an average of $110 million,” a ministry statement read.
The $2.82 billion deal, which includes technological support, training for ground crews and other logistics, was signed over the weekend after being approved by a ministerial committee in November.
The deal includes the purchase of 14 stealth fighters with an option to buy another 17 attack aircraft. It is the continuation of an agreement signed in 2010 to purchase 19 F-35 planes. Israel seeks to purchase a total of 50 jets – 25 aircraft for two squadrons. The agreement, after undergoing several revisions and setbacks, finally emerged in this configuration.
The deal also benefits Israeli manufactures, as weapons and aviation systems produced in Israel will be integrated into the aircraft, including the unique wings which are to be produced by the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). IAI will begin delivering the F-35 wings in mid-2015. The contract’s duration is for some 10-15 years, with potential sales reaching $2.5 billion. The first pair of wings is set to be delivered in 2015.
In total, this agreement is estimated to inject tens of millions of shekels into the local economy, the ministry said.
The first batch of aircraft, which are a crucial element in Israel’s Air Force’s (IAF) development as a leading air power in the Middle East, is expected to arrive in Israel by the end of 2016.
When the initial agreement was announced in 2010, the Defense Ministry said that a key part of the deal was an agreement to allow Israeli involvement in the assembly of the plane and the manufacture of spare parts.