Mar 9, 2019
Israel to buy more F-15s and F-35s
The arms procurement plan, one of Israel's largest ever, will tie up almost one quarter of US defense aid money in the coming decade. It includes a new squadron of attack planes, 5-7 cutting-edge aircraft for airborne refueling, and transportation helicopters to replace the Yasur (Sea Stallion) helicopters used by the air force for four decades. All of these will be accompanied by additional investment in new systems to be installed on the aircraft, development of special equipment, operating and maintenance infrastructure, etc.
The most important Israeli decision involves a choice between two attack planes: the F-35 Adir (stealth fighter) manufactured by Lockheed Martin and the new F-15 manufactured by Boeing. Lockheed Martin is offering Israel a third squadron of F-35s, plus new transportation helicopters and airborne refueling planes made by European company Airbus under a strategic cooperation agreement between the two companies. Boeing is offering Israel a no less attractive package: a squadron of 25 new F-15s, plus airborne refueling planes developed for the US Air Force and advanced transportation helicopters.
Israel has made three purchases of the F-35 in the past decade, 50 planes altogether, at $100-110 million per plane. Israel will have two squadrons of these planes by 2024. Lockheed Martin has supplied the air force with 14 of the places so far, and the planned rate of supply in the future is six planes per year.
The IDF and the Ministry of Defense estimate that the final decision will be made this summer. At the same time, defense sources say that they already detect signs that the general tendency is in favor of Boeing's offer, with the key work being mix: Israel needs both Lockheed Martin's stealth fighters and Boeing's bombers. If there were no budget constraints, the air force would probably choose both options.