f-35 fighter jet.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Israel is expected to make a decision in the coming weeks regarding the purchase
of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), senior defense officials said on
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This would make Israel the first foreign customer to sign a
contract to purchase the advanced stealth fighter jet.
Dir.-Gen. Udi Shani convened a meeting with top IDF officers Wednesday
evening to discuss the potential deal, which is expected to be decided upon at a
meeting later this month that will be chaired by Defense Minister Ehud
Last month, the Pentagon sent the Defense Ministry a Letter of
Agreement and gave it about 60 days to respond.
Under the proposed deal,
Israel will likely purchase a single squadron of the advanced fifth-generation
stealth fighter jet, which it would begin to receive in 2015, assuming that the
project does not encounter additional delays in its development. The JSF is
manufactured by Lockheed Martin.
“The ball is in their court,” V.-Adm.
Jeffrey Wieringa, who heads the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency,
told Reuters on Monday. “I am waiting for them to make a decision any
Israel is primarily concerned with the price of the aircraft, which
could go as high as close to $150 million.
As a result has also
considered delaying the procurement and instead purchasing additional F-15s from
The F-35 will be one of the most advanced fighter jets in the
world and, according to the IAF, would significantly boost Israel’s deterrence
in the region.
Israel is also seeking to receive a high level of “offset”
on the aircraft and has held talks with the Pentagon that could lead to business
for Israeli industries valued at close to $4 billion.
This would mean
that Israeli defense industries would receive a large percentage of the business
so that money Israel spends on the acquisition is put back into the country’s
One example of offset is the contract Israel Aerospace
Industries has won to produce wing boxes for F-16s made by the Bethesda,
Maryland- based Lockheed Martin, which is also the primary contractor for the
Israel Air Force chief Maj.- Gen. Ido Nehushtan held talks in
recent days with his Canadian counterpart, Lt.- Gen. Andre Deschamps, who
arrived in Israel on Sunday for his first visit here for talks with senior IDF
officials on various issues, among them the JSF.
Last week, Canada
announced that it will buy 65 F-35 fighter jets in a deal that will reach over
The first aircraft will arrive in 2016 and are scheduled to
replace Canadian F-18 Hornets.
During their talks, Nehushtan presented
Deschamps with a updated intelligence review of the Middle East, with a focus on
Iran as well as Hizbullah.
Deschamps visited the Tel Nof Air Force Base
and the newly established squadron of the Heron TP, Israel’s largest
aerial vehicle, which was declared operational earlier this year. He
visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.
purchased Heron 1 UAVs from Israel Aerospace Industries in a $95m. deal.
drones were used for operations in Afghanistan.
the IAF and the Canadian Air Force are extremely important,” Deschamps
“This was an excellent opportunity to visit here. I learned