Israel requested 25 extra F-35 fighters from the United States

On September 3, 2023, Israel officially requested an additional 25 F-35 Lightning II fighter jets from the US to create a third squadron of the aircraft in the Israeli Air Force. The Defense Ministry has submitted an official letter of request to the US military’s F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office, to advance Israel’s procurement of a third F-35I squadron.


The additional 25 aircraft, to be delivered in batches of three beginning in 2027, would bring the Israeli Air Force’s F-35I fleet to 75. The deal is estimated at $3 billion, financed by US military aid to Israel. In July, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant okayed the deal, at the recommendation of the military. The ministry says in a statement that the official request will “facilitate the approval and signing of the transaction in the coming months”.


Israel had previously agreed to purchase 50 F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin. They are being delivered in batches of twos and threes until 2024. As of November 2022, 36 F-35I jets had been delivered. The F-35 fighter jet, also known by its Hebrew name “Adir” (“Mighty” in English), has been in the Israeli Air Force fleet since June 22, 2016. Israel is the only country in the Middle East to operate it and was also the first one in the world to use it in a combat mission.

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This deal comes amid growing tensions with Iran, which is continuing to develop its ballistic missile program despite opposition from the US and Israel. In 2022, Israel used F-35 jets to shoot down Iranian kamikaze drones.

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