F-35 fighter jet.
(photo credit: LOCKHEED MARTIN)
The security cabinet on Sunday unanimously approved the purchase of 17 additional F-35 aircraft from the US, bringing to 50 the number of stealth fighters purchased at a cost of about $85 million each.
The planes will be purchased as part of the $38 billion, 10-year Memorandum of Understanding signed with the US in September.
Israel is expected to have two squadrons of F-35s by early next decade, with each squadron being made up of 25 planes. A third squadron of 25 planes may be purchased a later date.
The first two of the state-of-the-art fighters are scheduled to arrive on December 12 at the Nevatim Air Force Base near Beersheba.
In July, at a rollout ceremony of the first plane at a Lockheed-Martin plant in Fort Worth, Texas, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said the fighter is “the most advanced in the world and is the best selection by defense chiefs for safeguarding Israel’s aerial superiority.”
Israel is expected to receive the F-35s at the rate of six to seven each year beginning in 2017 and will be the first country outside of the US to receive the plane.