This order brings to 50 the total of F-35I fifth generation fighters ordered by Israel
The Israeli government has signed the necessary paperwork for a follow-on order of 17 Lockheed Martin F-35I Adir fighters for the Israeli Air Force (IAF), bringing the total to 50 aircraft.
According to Ynetnews, delivery of this third tranche of aircraft will be completed by December 2024.
“This is the third deal for F-35 purchases the Ministry of Defense has penned in the past decade alone,” said Dubi Lavie, head of Ministry of Defense’s delegation who signed the agreement for the additional Joint Strike Fighters in the U.S. the past weekend.
“With every series of jets coming off the production line, the American manufacturer has committed to bringing the price for an individual plane down,” he added. “We’re happy to announce that on this particular deal, the American project manager has successfully negotiated with the manufacturing company to bring down the average per-plane price to below $100 million. This is a significant reduction compared to the planes Israel has brought thus far.”
Noteworthy while in the first deal, Israel paid $125 million per plane for 19 F-35s in total, in the second deal, the price went down to $112 million per plane for 14 jets. Now Israel expects the price to drop below $90 million per plane for the additional 17 F-35Is.
Israeli F-35 deals have been severely criticized because the aircraft are more expensive than those purchased by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) since they feature several unique (and indigenous) systems to satisfy IAF operational requirements.
However Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman said the purchase of “17 additional F-35 fighter jets is a significant and strategic addition of strength to the air force.”
Moreover he added that “The F-35 squadrons are the pinnacle of technology, and will assist the IDF and air force in meeting the many security challenges Israel faces head-on. They are a central aspect in protecting the safety of the people of Israel along the country’s borders and even away from them.”
All 50 planes ordered by IAF (five of which have already been delivered) belong to the F-35A variant named F-35I in Israel.
Nevertheless, as we have already explained, the service is taking a serious look at buying several samples of the F-35B STOVL variant to replace its fleet of legacy F-15s.
Photo credit: Major Ofer / Israeli Air Force
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com