Israel has recently sealed a deal to purchase 20 brand-new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets made by US defense and aerospace corporation Lockheed Martin in a contract that, at $2.75 billion, is one of the largest arms purchases ever made by the state. The entire contract is paid for by an ongoing US military aid package under the auspices of the US government’s Foreign Military Sales program.
Israel had originally attempted to purchase 75 jets, a plan that was discussed in meetings between Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Israeli Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Shani, US Pentagon officials and Lockheed Martin representatives in September 2008.
According to an August 16 report in Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, the deal stalled when the Israeli Air Force (IAF) demanded that Israeli-made systems be installed “for specialties such as electronic warfare and communications.” The IAF also wanted to modify the jet’s capacity to carry Israeli-made missiles. Lockheed declined, saying that the deal was a “closed package.”
“They agreed that Israel would begin by buying a first squadron… >>>