Gantz pushes to buy third F-35 squadron

Israel’s Defense Minister said the nation currently needs to purchase another squadron of stealth F-35 warplanes from the United States.

By Ebin Sandler, World Israel News

On Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that Israel should purchase another batch of F-35s fighter jets, which would be the nation’s third squadron of the stealth warplanes.

Israel purchases the aircraft from the United States, and Gantz expressed hope that an agreement for the planes could be concluded while President Donald Trump remains in office. He is set to step down on January 20.

With the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the verge of acquiring its own fleet of F-35s, Israel is pursuing strategies to maintain its qualitative military edge in the Middle East.

The Trump administration signaled willingness in 2020 to sell F-35s to the UAE, which concluded a peace agreement with Israel last year as part of the Abraham Accords.

In addition to the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco also signed on to establish diplomatic relations with Israel as part of the accords, widely viewed as one of the crowning achievements of Trump and senior advisor Jared Kushner.

Speculation is currently running high that Saudi Arabia will be the next Muslim country in the Mideast to sign a deal with Israel.

Prior to the Abraham Accords, the U.S. appeared unwilling to permit other allies in the region to purchase F-35s.

While Israel and its new Arab allies have touted benefits related to trade, technology, and tourism, the Abraham Accords also appear designed to forge a unified front against Iran, which operates terror proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and the Gaza Strip.

Iran is also believed to be behind attacks in Saudi Arabia and recently captured a South Korean tanker in the Persian Gulf. Analysts believe the Islamic Republic is holding the ship hostage to force South Korea to disgorge $7 billion in funds frozen due to tightening economic sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.

In addition to sponsoring and training terror groups, developing ballistic missiles, and perpetuating civil war in Yemen and Syria, Iran is suspected of developing nuclear weapons.

Israel produced credible evidence in 2018 of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which Jerusalem says has been confirmed by Iran’s announcement this week it is enriching uranium to 20% in breach of the 2015 nuclear pact.