IDF shopping spree: Israel has submitted an official request to the United States government for the acquisition of F-35 stealth fighter aircraft, Lockheed Martin representative Bob Trice, who is currently visiting Israel, revealed Thursday.
Israel is reportedly seeking to purchase 35 planes at this time and another 15 in the future, in accordance with the Air Force's long term acquisitions plan.
Trice said he expected the fighter jets will be supplied to Israel starting at the end of 2013 or early in 2014. Similarly to previous deals of this type, Israel is expected to integrate Israeli-made systems in the American planes after they arrive in Israel.
Top priorityThe new acquisition is also expected to include three Hercules aircraft, with he first one expected in Israel in 2013. Israel may purchase two more Hercules planes in the future.
The Lockheed Martin representative refused to address the price tag of the aircraft, but according to estimates each stealth aircraft costs roughly $80 million, while a Hercules costs somewhere in the range of $50-60 million.
The major aircraft acquisition is part of the IDF's five-year plan. Defense officials said equipping the Air Force with the most advanced fighter jets in the world is a top priority. The issue has already been discussed in talks between senior Israeli and American officials.