The Israeli Air Force will be expanding its fleet of F-35 (“Adir”) jets to a total of 50, on the conclusion of a third phase of acquisitions for the advanced fighter craft, announced on Sunday.
The agreement signed in the U.S. between the Ministry of Defense and the U.S. government will add 17 planes to the 33 already on order. Five have been delivered so far, and the entire fleet is scheduled to be received by Israel by December 2024.
Israeli officials expressed satisfaction at the bargain prices. “With every series of jets coming off the production line, the American manufacturer has committed to bringing the price for an individual plane down,” said Dubi Lavie, the head of the Israeli delegation to the U.S.
“We’re happy to announce that on this particular deal, the American project manager has successfully negotiated with the manufacturing company to bring down the average per-plane price to below $100 million. This is a significant reduction compared to the planes Israel has brought thus far.”
In the first purchase phase, Israel paid $125 million per plane for 19 F-35s in total. In the second round, the price went down to $112 million per plane for 14 jets. Israel expects the price for the third batch to drop below $90 million per plane.
Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman hailed the signing of the deal, saying the purchase of “17 additional F-35 fighter jets is a significant and strategic addition of strength to the air force.”
“The F-35 squadrons are the pinnacle of technology, and will assist the IDF and air force in meeting the many security challenges Israel faces head-on. They are a central aspect in protecting the safety of the people of Israel along the country’s borders and even away from them,” he added.
The planes were designed to Israel’s own specifications and will be equipped with Israeli-made electronic warfare pods as well as Israeli weaponry, to be installed once the plane arrives in Israel.