The Defense Ministry has formally submitted a letter of request to the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office of the US military, seeking approval to accelerate Israel’s acquisition of a third squadron of F-35I aircraft.
This request pertains to an extra 25 aircraft, which are scheduled to be delivered in groups of three, commencing in 2027. If approved, this acquisition would increase the Israeli Air Force’s F-35I fleet to a total of 75 aircraft.
The estimated cost of this deal is approximately $3 billion, with funding coming from US military aid allocated to Israel.
In July, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant granted approval for the deal based on a recommendation from the military.
The Ministry has released a statement stating that the official request will “streamline the approval process and pave the way for the transaction to be finalized in the coming months.”
Israel had previously committed to acquiring 50 F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin, with deliveries scheduled in batches of two or three aircraft until 2024.
As of November 2022, a total of 36 F-35I jets had been delivered.