Israel has submitted request for information (RFI) to purchase 50 additional F-35 fighter jets for the Israel Air Force (IAF) that currently has 20 of them in its inventory and another 30 on order.
“Israel has submitted a RFI about the potential purchase of a third squadron of F-35 jets. Lockheed Martin is delivering all of the relevant documentation in response to the request,” Gary North, vice president for customer requirements at Lockheed Martin, who in the past served in the US Air Force as the former air-component commander for Central Command in the Middle East, was quoted as saying by JNS on Sunday.
The country was poised to choose between Lockheed F-35 and Boeing F-15 jets for the IAF. Aside of combat jets, Israel intends to buy 5-7 tanker aircraft, and helicopters to replace the four-decades-old Yasur (Sea Stallion) using the US defense aid money. Israel will also invest in new systems to be installed on the aircraft, development of special equipment, operating and maintenance infrastructure, Globes reported in March 2019.
Both Lockheed and Boeing reportedly offered fighters, helicopters and transport planes to Israel, but a defense source said earlier that the deal was swinging in Boeing’s favour, taking financial aspects into consideration. The company that offered a deal that fits Israel’s budget, and that intends to make “attractive” reciprocal procurement from local companies was said to be given preference.
In addition, while the F-35 has stealth capabilities, the F-15 jet is capable of bearing a very broad range of types and quantities of bombs and missiles. “Procuring Lockheed jets along with Boeing's bombers would have been ideal. If there were no budget constraints, the air force would probably choose both options," the source had said.