US to sell 75 fighter jets to Israel
US and Israel enjoy very close diplomatic and milrtary ties. Israel buys lot of their military hardware from American companies. For the first time the US Defense department has approved the sale of 25 F-35 stealth-enabled Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) to the Isreal. The sale also allows buying another 50 additional bombers in future. The deal is valued at $15.2 billion Each plane is estimated to cost between $70 million and $80m and will be equipped with F-135 or F-136 engines by the IAF.
The Defense Department has said that it wants to sell up to 75 fighter jets to Israel in a USD 15.2 billion deal for the aircraft expecte d to be the mainstay of air power in the US and several other nations for decades. The Defense Security cooperation Agency said on Monday that it had notified the Congress on Friday that Israel has asked to buy 25 of the F-35s made by Lockheed Martin Corp, with an option to buy an additional 50 at a later date.
The sale would be the first to a country outside of the US and eight partner nations that are collaborating on the F-35, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter. The jet is still under development and is not yet in service, but the US plans to eventually acquire 2,458 planes for the Army, Marines and Air Force at a cost of USD 300 billion.
The F-35 was designed as a replacement for a range of warplanes, including the F-16, which is a large component of many air forces worldwide. Countries such as Spain, Singapore and Japan also have expressed interest in the F-35.
Israel has said it plans to buy a fleet of F-35s as it upgrades its military technology. The first batch of 25 would be the variant of F-35 designed for conventional take off from military airfields, but the later 50 could include a version that can land vertically.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement that the proposed sale will help Israel "develop and maintain a strong self-defense capability." It also said that sale of the technologically advanced fighter won't upset the balance of military power in the region.
The US is developing the plane with nations that include Britain, Australia and Italy, though the Pentagon has shouldered much of the funding. Plans currently call for the military to start flying the plane in 2010.
Israeli chose the F-35B due to an understanding that in a time of war, Israeli bases and runways will be heavily targeted by enemy missiles and in this configuration, the F-35B can hover, land vertically, take off in a few hundred feet fully-loaded, or take off vertically with a light load. When the aircraft transitions from jet-borne to conventional wing-borne flight, the doors close and the pilot can then accelerate to supersonic speeds.