f-35 jet 224 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The IDF will need to reevaluate its procurement of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) in light of the global economic crisis, as cracks appearing in the coalition producing the plane could push up the price of the jet.
According to the officials, the IDF will likely hold off signing an official contract with the US Air Force to buy the jet, also known as the F-35, until the economic situation becomes clearer.
Last month, the Pentagon announced plans to sell Israel 75 JSF jets in a deal that could reach over $15 billion. Israel said it will likely exercise the right to buy 25 planes, which it would like to begin receiving in 2014.
Italy, one of the project's nine partners, said last week it would not purchase two early models of the jet it had intended to use for testing and evaluation, Israeli defense officials noted Thursday.
While deciding not to buy the test aircraft, Italy remains a partner in the JSF program and has announced plans to buy around 130 planes.
JSF manufacturer Lockheed Martin confirmed that Italy would not purchase the test aircraft but that Rome was still a full-fledged partner in the program and was committed to buying the final version.
But Italy is reportedly not the only country getting cold feet about the project.
According to the British Times, England is considering pulling out of the project due to its increasing costs. The British had planned to buy 150 planes.
It had intended to deploy the jets on the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers. But, according to the report, Britain has commissioned studies to analyze whether Eurofighters could be adapted to fly off the carriers instead.
Israeli defense officials said that the global economic crisis was clearly having an effect on the arms market.
One official said it was possible that if orders dropped, the cost of the plane would increase and that as a result Israel would need to reconsider the number of planes it will buy.