A ministerial committee headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak has given its final approval to the purchase of F-35 warplanes from the United States. Senior IDF officials took part in the final decision.
“Purchasing this fighter jet, the most technically advanced on earth, is a significant step in strengthening Israel's military prowess,” Netanyahu said during the committee meeting.
Barak announced the impending approval of the F-35 purchase in August saying the plane "will give the Air Force the best capability in the short and long range and allow Israel to maintain aerial superiority.”
His decision was met with criticism from the Finance Ministry, which called on him to reconsider it. In early September, it was reported that Israel would go ahead with the purchase after being given a green light to add Israeli technology to the aircraft.
Israel is expected to begin by purchasing 20 of the planes, for a total cost of 2.7 billion dollars. The deal will be the most expensive in the IDF's history.
Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Shani, a retired IDF general, confirmed that Israel has received approval to install its own technologies in the F-35. In addition, he said, Israel and the U.S. have reached a deal for a counter-purchase by the U.S. worth billions of dollars.
Lockheed-Martin has agreed to allow Israeli participation in the creation of the F-35s, specifically, in building wing parts. The Israeli contribution is expected to generate up to $4 billion for Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit Systems.