Reuters Nir Elias
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz expressed his desire to buy Tel Aviv a third squadron of US “F-35” fighters, and hoped that the deal could be completed before President Donald Trump’s term ends.
“Undoubtedly, we need to expand the F-35 systems. At the moment we have two squadrons of F-35s. I think we will expand on that. That’s what I asked of the Americans,” Gantz told Y-Net television.
He added, “I would like to buy another squadron of F-35s and then discuss what to do (next). Shall we continue to buy more F-35s or switch to F-15s?”
Gantz did not specify how many F-35s would be proposed for the new squadron. Defense officials said the two squadrons already in Israel had 50 aircraft.
When asked whether Israel will conclude a defense purchase deal with the United States before Trump’s term ends, Gantz said: “I hope so. I think the defense budget needs to be managed appropriately.”
Israel has been in talks with Washington on how to maintain its military supremacy after the Trump administration approved a possible deal to sell F-35 fighters to the UAE last year. Previously, these aircraft were only available to Israel in the region.
The F-35 is manufactured by Lockheed Martin, while Boeing manufactures the F-15.