Pentagon Approves Israeli F-35 Sale

The Pentagon has informed Congress of its intent to sell Israel at least 25 F-35 stealth fighters and perhaps as many as 75 of them under a proposed foreign military sale. The deal has a total potential value of $15.2 billion if all options are exercised, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in its Sept. 29 release. If Congress allows the transaction to go forth, Israel would be the first non-F-35 partner nation to buy the aircraft. According to DSCA, Israel initially would receive 25 F-35A conventional-takeoff-and-landing aircraft and associated equipment and services. It would have the option of acquiring an additional 50 F-35s at a later date, either in the CTOL configuration or F-35B short-takeoff/vertical-landing model, DSCA said. The agency provided no notional delivery date, but the Jerusalem Post reported Oct. 1 that Israel could begin receiving F-35s in 2014. Israel has long eyed the F-35 to upgrade its air capabilities and has been a so-called security cooperation participant in the F-35 program, giving it access—albeit with disruptions over US concerns about Israeli technology disclosure to third parties—to updates on the progress of the F-35 to aid in its planning. The mainstays of its air force are currently F-15s and F-16s. According to the Post, Israel still wants to install its own electronics in the F-35s so that they would be superior to any other F-35s that the US may sell to other nations in the Mideast region.