F-35s, Iron Dome: IDF's wishlist reveals US arms procurement plans

The US aid package that is awaiting approval is supposed to fund new squadrons of fighter jets and helicopters. In the meantime, with the help of the regular annual aid from the US, the Air Force will expand in the coming months

In the background of the war in Gaza, but unrelated to it, in the coming days or weeks, Israel will sign an agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense to purchase 25 new F-35 aircraft, which will be added to the 50 aircraft of this type that it has ordered in recent years, of which it has already been supplied with 39. Three more planes will be delivered to the Air Force towards the summer, and according to estimates, even before the end of the decade it will have at least three squadrons of F-35s at its disposal. The scope of the transaction at hand is estimated at approximately $3 billion and it will be financed through the security aid funds provided by the United States to Israel amounting to $3.8 billion per year.
Apart from the regular annual aid, in recent months Israel has been preparing a special aid package promoted by the President of the United States, Joe Biden, of about $14.6 billion. While the approval of the unprecedented aid package is stuck in Congress, due to difficulties created by the Republican Party, Israel has high hopes for it and is already planning an extensive procurement campaign of new weapons from the American defense industries. It includes the plan to establish a fourth squadron of Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft and two more squadrons of advanced Boeing F-15 AI fighter jets. The approximately 100 new fighter jets that Israel is interested in purchasing will make it possible to take out of service outdated F-15 and F-16 squadrons whose maintenance costs are high.
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מטוס אדיר F35
מטוס אדיר F35
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson)
When approved, the special aid package should finance the purchase of at least one squadron of Apache helicopters from Boeing, and it is possible that another squadron will be purchased later this decade. These are E model Apache helicopters, and at least some of them will replace outdated Apache helicopters that have been used by the Air Force for over three decades.
The plans of the defense establishment to expand the array of combat helicopters are the result of the Hamas attack, which illustrated the need for them. This, after helicopter units were neglected in the past decade in favor of the development of UAVs.
And it's not just about aircraft. While some of Benjamin Netanyahu's partners in the government attack the American president and mock him, his extensive aid program to Israel also includes large amounts of armaments of all kinds that will allow the Air Force to significantly improve its capabilities. These include advanced and accurate air-to-ground missiles, bunker-penetrating bombs, and thousands of interceptors for Israel's main air defense systems, Iron Dome and David's Sling.
Even before the war in Gaza, and alongside it the increase in the likelihood of an all-out war with Hezbollah in the north, the Ministry of Defense and the Air Force have in recent years advanced the procurement of additional aircraft, including 12 CH-53 (Super Yasur) helicopters from Lockheed Martin, which will allow to renew the outdated and faltering array of transport helicopters, and this at a cost of at least $2 billion. Israel has the option of purchasing six additional transport helicopters of this type.
The IDF has also purchased seven new Hercules (Samson) aircraft from Lockheed Martin and the deal includes the option to purchase two more. This, in addition to the purchase of two KC-46 aerial refueling planes from Boeing, with the first refueling plane to be delivered to the Air Force in early 2025. All those transactions were made on the basis of American aid funds by virtue of an outline promoted by former President Barack Obama, totaling $38 billion until 2028.