(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday that Israel will purchase 17 additional F-35 fighter jets from the U.S.
Israel’s diplomatic-security cabinet unanimously approved the acquisition, saying American defense aid funds would be used to finance the deal.
Once the deal is completed, Israel's F-35 squadron will include 50 stealth jets. The Israeli cabinet also decided Sunday that one of the jets acquired as part of the latest deal will be used as a test aircraft, on which the Israeli Air Force (IAF) can install and test new operating and weapon systems.
Israeli ministers are believed to already be considering a third purchase, this time for 25 F-35 jets. This acquisition may also include the F-35B STOVL, an advanced stealth takeoff and vertical landing variant aircraft.
A senior IAF officer told Israel Hayom that the F-35B STOVL "has many advantages, but some of its unique capabilities come at the expense of other jet capabilities." The IAF, he said, may opt to pass on the third potential acquisition in favor of procuring additional Boeing-manufactured F-15 fighter jets.
"The F-15s are tried and true and this might be our last chance to purchase more of them. The F-35 will only prove itself in the future," the officer said.