The Israeli security cabinet approved Sunday evening to increase Israel’s purchase of F-35i Lighting II stealth fighters from the US, raising the total number of jets to be acquired from 33 to 50.
Israel’s first F-35i is slated to arrive by mid-December.
“My government is working to fortify Israel’s [military] forces,” said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, “so as to ensure its continued existence for decades to come. Israel will be able to defend itself against any enemy on any front.”
The first Israeli F-35 – known as the F-35i “Adir” – designed to Israel’s own specifications, was completed in Fort Worth, Texas in June.
The F-35, America’s newest fighter aircraft, is the culmination of the Joint Strike Fighter program first launched in the 1980s.
With a price tag of $100 million per unit, the F-35 is one of the most expensive weapons acquisition programs of all time, with a total program cost of $1.5 trillion.
The Israeli Air Force hopes to increase its purchase a further 25 units, reaching a total of 75 F-35i aircraft.