Fearing major delays to the Joint Strike Fighter, the IAF is exploring whether
to purchase a used squadron of F-15 fighter jets from the US Air Force, as it
faces a possible drop in its number of combat aircraft.RELATED:Stealth powerReported 3-year delay in F-35 program may impact delivery
Israel decided to
purchase a squadron of 20 F-35 stealth fifth-generation JSFs, which are made by
Lockheed Martin, last year in a massive $2.75 billion deal, to be financed by
the military assistance Israel receives from the United States.
program has recently encountered significant development delays. Other
countries, such as Turkey and Norway, have also reportedly put their purchases
of the aircraft on hold.
The F-35 is supposed to be one of the most
advanced fighter jets in the world and will enable Israel to phase out some of
its older F-15 and F-16 models.
According to the IAF, the plane will
significantly boost Israel’s deterrence in the Middle East and provide it with
an edge on adversaries that operate advanced anti-aircraft systems, since it is
a stealth jet that cannot be detected by existing radars.
Due to the
delays, the IDF is working on a plan that includes upgrading its current fleet
of legendary F-15s and F-16s that it had planned on phasing out, as well as the
procurement of a squadron of used F-15s from the USAF that will serve as a “gap
filler” for the IAF until the JSF arrives, now expected as late as 2018.