After Israel receives its first F-35 plane at a ceremony in Texas on Wednesday, it will be in the market for more of the planes that have been called the most sophisticated fighting machines ever created. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said. “I am not a professional pilot, but all the professional evaluations I have seen indicated that the F-35 is the best fighter plane available today. I am working with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the matter of American aid and I support acquiring 17 more of these planes.”
Israel will be the first country outside the U.S. to receive the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, which the Israel Air Force terms the “Adir.” The F-35, a fifth generation fighter plane, is among the most expensive military projects ever executed – so expensive that it’s development costs are being split by the U.S. and eight other countries. Israeli security officials said that the plane, with its advanced weaponry and fast engines, will help restore Israel’s qualitative combat edge, which was being eclipsed as surrounding countries acquired advanced weapons systems.
By 2020, there will be 600 F35’s in existence, and Israel is expected to have 33 of them. Each plane costs $90 million, much of which will be paid for by American military aid. By the end of 2016, according to a senior IDF official, Israel will receive an additional 2 planes. All told, Israel expects to acquire 75 of the planes.
Pilots will train on the new, complicated machines for as long as a year, and the planes will then be introduced into regular missions, the official said.