Skip to main content

Israel to buy 25 more F-35 fighter jets in $3bn deal

Israel's purchase comprises of 25 F-35s, bringing total number of advanced jets in Israel’s air force to 75
An Israeli air force F-35 fighter lands during an air defence exercise at the Ovda air force base, north of the Israeli city of Eilat, on 24 October 2021.
An Israeli air force F-35 fighter lands during an air defence exercise at the Ovda air force base, north of the Israeli city of Eilat, on 24 October 2021 (AFP)

Israel has approved the purchase of its third fleet of F-35 stealth fighter jets in a deal worth $3bn, the country's defence ministry announced on Sunday.

The purchase will comprise of an additional 25 aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Martin to bring the number of F-35 jets in Israel’s air force to 75 planes.

Lockheed Martin and engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney have agreed to involve Israeli defence companies in the production of aircraft components, the Israeli ministry added.

“This new agreement will ensure the continuation of cooperation between American companies and Israeli defence industries in the production of aircraft parts,” the ministry said in a statement.

Israel was the first country outside the United States to acquire the F-35, and remains the only country in the Middle East to have the fifth-generation fighter jet in its arsenal.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Other countries in the Middle East have long sought to purchase the advanced fighter jets but have so far faced issues in doing so.

Turkey had been a part of a joint programme with Washington to manufacture the F-35s. However, in 2019, the US removed Ankara from the programme over the country's purchase of the Russian-made S400 missile defence system.

The United Arab Emirates has also been eyeing the US-made F-35, but the Gulf nation’s ties to China have created a roadblock in securing a purchase of the planes.

The fighter jet is considered the world’s most advanced, capable of gathering intelligence, striking deep into enemy territory and engaging in air duels.

The purchase of the fighter jets will be financed through US military aid. The US provides Israel with $3.8bn in military aid every year, allowing Israel to use US government-approved financing to obtain major American defence systems.

While Israel is the US’s closest Middle East ally, ties between the two have come under some strain.

Netanyahu has yet to receive an official invitation to visit the White House from US President Joe Biden, who made a rare public foray into Israel’s domestic politics in March when he called for a compromise to the spat over Netanyahu’s contentious plans to overhaul Israel’s judiciary.

And lawmakers in the US have spoken out against Washington's military aid to the country, with Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Jamaal Bowman drafting a letter earlier this year to the Biden administration calling for a probe into whether Israel is using American weapons to commit human rights violations against Palestinians.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.