Watch Out, Iran– Israel Wants More F-35s – The State of Israel became the first nation to select the F-35 through the United States government’s Foreign Military Sales process more than a dozen years ago, and the Middle Eastern country received its first F-35A in June 2016.
The program of record was for 50 aircraft, including the specially modified F-35I Adir – a unique Israeli variant of the fifth-generation Lightning II that was integrated with a domestically built electronic warfare system (EW).
The Lockheed Martin-produced aircraft has proven to be so successful with Israel, that on Sunday it was announced that the government has sought to advance procurement of a third F-35I squadron. The Israeli Defense Ministry submitted an official letter of request (LOR) to the U.S. – which calls for an additional 25 aircraft, to be delivered in batches of three beginning in 2027, which would bring the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF’s) fleet to 75.
The deal is estimated at $3 billion, financed by U.S. military aid to Israel.
“We are proud to support the Israeli Defense Forces in providing the F-35, and honored that the Israeli government has announced its intent to purchase additional F-35s,” Joshua Shani, chief executive of Lockheed Martin Israel, said in a statement.
As of last November, 36 F-35 jets had been delivered to the IAF – delivered in batches of twos and threes. The final initial 50 aircraft are expected to be delivered by the end of next year.
F-35: Crucial Warbird in the Middle East
The F-35 is considered a crucial tool in Israel’s ongoing “war between the wars” – known in Hebrew as MADAM – against Iranian proxies in Syria. In addition, the F-35 Lightning II/Adir has been seen as well-suited in the event that Israel would need to strike Iran’s nuclear program.
The aircraft’s stealth technology enables it to conduct precision attacks at targets throughout the Middle East with near impunity, while its surveillance and intelligence capabilities greatly exceed that of the Israeli Air Force’s F-15 and F-16 combat aircraft.
Israeli officials believe the F-35 to be more than capable of outwitting Iran’s Russian-made S-300 air defense systems, and possibly even the more advanced S-400 “Triumf,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
Israeli Involvement in F-35 Production
The LOR will facilitate the approval of the eventual sale of the jets to Israel, and as part of the original agreement with the United States, as well as Lockheed Martin, and the engine manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney, Israel’s defense industries will be committed to the production of the aircraft components.
“This new agreement will ensure the continuation of cooperation between American companies and Israeli defense industries in the production of aircraft parts,” the Israeli Ministry of Defense announced.
“The Israeli Air Force has proven its capabilities in critical operations with the 116 and 140 Squadrons, and we are looking forward to building on this strong performance,” added Lockheed Martin Israel’s Shani. “With a combination of stealth, sensor fusion and electronic warfare, the 5th Generation F-35 will ensure the Israeli Air Force stays ahead of current and evolving threats.”
It is safe to say that Tehran and Damascus – and likely even Moscow – won’t like this at all!
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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