Israel will house its future fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets at the Nevatim airbase in the Negev desert, the IDF announced on Tuesday.

This decision has named the Israeli home of the aircraft that defense chiefs view as ensuring Israel’s regional qualitative edge in the first quarter of the 21st century.

OC Air Force Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan finalized the location of the jets this week, and chose Nevatim due to the advantages it offered in terms of infrastructure, training space and the IDF’s plans to move significant resources into southern Israel. Nevatim is currently home to F-16 squadrons and giant C-130 Hercules transport planes.

“We are proud to the be the base that will receive the future aircraft, which will turn Nevatim airbase into a strategic base forming a powerful battle component,” said Brig.-Gen. Ronen Samhi, commander of the airbase, according to the IDF Spokesman’s Office.

According to the IAF, the F- 35 jet is the most advanced warplane in the world, capable of carrying out a range of vital missions, from attacks to interceptions.

Last October, Israel signed a $2.75 billion deal to purchase a squadron of 20 F-35s from Lockheed Martin, and has received Pentagon approval to purchase an additional 55 at a later date.

The IDF budgeted the procurement of a second squadron under the military’s new multi-year plan, which is expected to go into effect in the beginning of 2012.

“The first jets will arrive in Israel only in 2015, but Israeli pilots will be able to fly practice flights in it in the US in 2014,” an IDF spokesman said on Tuesday.

Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

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