In a decisive move to fortify its aerial might, Israel has announced a groundbreaking $3 billion deal to acquire an additional squadron of Lockheed Martin’s elite F-35 stealth fighter jets.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant unveiled the ambitious purchase this Tuesday, June 4, emphasizing the strategic enhancement of Israel’s defense capabilities and the deepening of its alliances in an increasingly turbulent region.

The deal comprises the purchase of 25 cutting-edge F-35 fighter jets, celebrated for their stealth capabilities, superior avionics, and versatility in air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.

With deliveries slated to commence in 2028, this addition will increase Israel’s F-35 fleet to a robust 75, making it one of the most formidable air forces globally.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant highlighted the strategic and geopolitical significance of this deal, stating, “At a time when some of our adversaries aim to undermine our ties with our greatest ally, we only further strengthen our alliance.”

He added that the acquisition “sends a powerful message to our enemies across the region,” reinforcing the notion that Israel remains undeterred in its defense strategy and international partnerships.

F-35: Unmatched Combat Readiness

The F-35, renowned as the world’s most advanced fifth-generation fighter, offers capabilities that include evading radar detection, collecting critical intelligence, deep-strike ability, and superior aerial combat performance.

Israel, as the only Middle Eastern nation equipped with these state-of-the-art jets, has already showcased their combat efficacy.

In May 2018, the Israeli military proudly became the first globally to deploy F-35s in combat, underscoring their strategic value.

Timely Military Upgrade Amid Rising Threats

This strategic acquisition comes at a crucial time. Israel has conducted numerous air strikes on strategic targets across Syria, primarily targeting Iranian-backed forces, Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, and Syrian army positions. These operations are part of a broader strategy to neutralize threats and stabilize the region.

The recent direct assault by Iran, involving over 300 drones and missiles during the conflict with Hamas, further illustrates the heightened threats Israel continues to face.

The defense ministry outlined the logistics of the jet delivery, noting, “The delivery of the aircraft to the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) will commence in 2028 at a rate of three to five aircraft per year.” This structured delivery plan ensures that the enhancement of the IAF’s capabilities will be gradual, allowing for seamless integration into existing forces without straining logistical or operational capacities.

F-35I Adirs
A fleet of F-35I Adirs fighter jets. (Image source: DVIDS)

By significantly expanding its fleet of F-35s, Israel not only bolsters its defensive capabilities but also enhances its offensive potential. The stealth jets are pivotal in operations that require deep penetration into enemy territories without detection, offering Israel a strategic advantage in preemptive and reactive military scenarios.

Continued Conflict and Calls for Justice

Last April, US President Joe Biden authorized a significant aid package for Israel, totaling $26.4 billion, which included $14 billion designated for military support. This US assistance is perceived by Palestinians as a means to extend Israel’s military actions in the Gaza Strip.

Since the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, Israel has maintained its intense military offensive in Gaza, disregarding a UN Security Council resolution that called for an immediate cease-fire.

According to reports from local health authorities, the conflict has resulted in over 36,500 Palestinian casualties, predominantly women and children, and nearly 83,000 injuries.

Now, eight months into the conflict, large areas of Gaza have been devastated, with severe shortages of basic supplies (including food, clean water, and medicine) caused by a strict blockade.

Additionally, Israel is currently facing allegations of genocide at the International Court of Justice. The Court has issued a directive for Israel to cease its military activities in Rafah immediately. Rafah had become a refuge for over a million Palestinians fleeing the conflict before it was overtaken in early May.