Israel will purchase 17 more advanced F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin, the Prime Minister’s Office said Sunday.
The security cabinet voted unanimously to approve the purchase, the statement said, adding that this brings the total number of F-35’s to be acquired to 50.
Though the government has not released exact figures for the price, at approximately NIS 387 million ($100 million) per airplane, these additional 17 F-35 fighter jets will likely set Israel back at least NIS 6.6 billion ($1.7 billion), not including the costs of additional maintenance and support equipment.
The F-35 — known in Israel as the Adir, meaning “awesome” or “mighty” in Hebrew — is a fifth generation stealth fighter jet equipped with an array of the latest technology that is expected to anchor the Israel Air Force for years to come.
In June, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman attended an event in the US in which the version of the plane intended for Israel was unveiled for the first time.
הקבינט החליט הערב פה אחד לרכוש עוד 17 מטוסים מסוג F-35 ובכך להגדיל ל-50 את מספר מטוסי החמקן שיקבל חיל האוויר pic.twitter.com/F359nP2gfG
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) November 27, 2016
Israel is expected to receive the first two planes before the end of 2016, after which another six- seven planes will arrive in each subsequent year.
The option to purchase an additional 17 jets has been on the table for some time, and Sunday’s announcement by the security cabinet seems to confirm that Israel will realize its option to acquire more fighter planes.
Despite taking years to produce, over $1.5 trillion in development costs, and numerous setbacks, Israel’s purchase of the 17 additional F-35s appeared to be a show of confidence in the plane and its abilities.
Israel receives over $3 billion a year from the US in military aid, and early this year the two countries agreed on a new aid package that will see Israel receive $3.8 billion annually through 2028, the vast majority of which must be used on purchases from American defense companies.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.