(JNS.org) Israel’s Defense Ministry has finalized the acquisition of 17 additional F-35 stealth fighter jets from the United States.
The acquisition of the advanced fighter planes was initially announced in November. Israel’s diplomatic-security cabinet then unanimously approved the deal, saying American defense aid funds would be used to finance the program. Delivery of the jets is expected by December 2024.
The Israeli Air Force has already received five of the F-35 “Adir” stealth fighter jets, currently being tested by Israeli pilots. The IAF is slated to receive two more planes by the end of August.
The additional fighter planes will provide Israel with a “significant and strategic” edge in the region, said Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
“The two (F-35) squadrons, which will help the IDF and the IAF deal with the many security challenges facing the state of Israel, are central to protecting the security of Israeli citizens along her borders as well as far away from them,” he said.
Israel was the first foreign country permitted to acquire the planes, at a cost of roughly $100 million each. The defense industries in the U.S. and Israel cooperated in the production and development of the F-35.
The planes are widely viewed as the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft and have the capability to counter the most sophisticated air defense systems, such as the Russian S-300 and S-400 surface-to-air missiles.