Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak approved an order for 20 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in a deal valued at around $2.75 billion, according to Haaretz. The Israeli Air Force expects to take delivery of the first aircraft in 2015. The article quotes Barak saying the F-35 costs $96 million a copy. The entire deal will be funded by American military aid.
The F-35 deal had dragged for more than two years as the IAF wanted access to the plane’s hardware and software; they also wanted to install Israeli electronic warfare and configure it to carry Israeli-made missiles. The JSF program folks said no, that the deal was a “closed package.”
Although, if the Israelis place a larger order down the road, the JSF program said more Israeli-sourced components could be installed. To sweeten terms of the deal, Lockheed Martin agreed to buy more component parts for the JSF from Israeli firms; at a price of around $4 billion.
So, the IAF gets a squadron of F-35s, Israeli industry gets more orders for JSF components, and its all paid for by American taxpayers; certainly a win-win for the Israelis.
-- Greg Grant