Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has approved a purchase of 20 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs) in a deal valued at approximately US$2.75bn (A$3.08bn).
“The F-35 is the fighter plane of the future that will allow Israel to maintain its aerial superiority and its technological advantage in the region,” Barak was quoted as saying by the Hareetz newspaper. “The F-35 will give the IAF better capabilities, both near and far, to help strengthen Israel’s national security.”
The first F-35 is expected to arrive in Israel from 2015, with the entire purchase funded through US military aid. The aircraft will have limited Israeli content, although future purchases could incorporate more local systems and weaponry.
“The considerations for approving the deal were not just about the operational abilities of the plane but the agreements for involving Israeli industries in the assembly of the plane,” said defence ministry director general Udi Shani.
The current 20 aircraft purchase is expected to only support one squadron, while additional aircraft purchases are likely.