Lockheed Martin pressuring Israel to buy 50 more F-35s, report says

Lockheed wants Israel to double its F-35 fleet to 100 planes. Israel, however, is eyeing a competitor’s plane. 

By World Israel News Staff

According to Globes, Lockheed Martin is pushing for the sale of 50 more F-35s to Israel.

The financial website reports on Sunday that the U.S. aviation company has put the proposal before senior Israeli defense officials.

Israel is struggling to decide whether it’s better off purchasing another squadron of F-35 aircraft or an F-15 IA squadron from competing company Boeing, Globes reports. A squadron consists of 25 aircraft.

Israel received its first crop of F-35 fighters in December, 2016. There are currently 20 in Israel’s fleet. Israel has committed to 50, which will arrive at a rate of six a year until 2024, Globes reports.

If Lockheed Martin is successful in its sales pitch, Israel would eventually have 100 F-35s.

It’s not clear if Israel wants that many.

Since the F-35 purchase, Boeing’s F-15 IA caught Israel’s eye, and in 2018 the Israeli Air Force chose it to become Israel’s new fighter. It has advanced capabilities over the original F-15, which has been in use by the IAF since 1998.

According to a Ynet report, “The jet can carry up to 13 tons of explosives — a capability unmatched by any other attack aircraft.”

What may sway Israel’s decision is that “Lockheed Martin made a $ 1.75 billion reciprocal purchase in Israel’s economy,” Globes says.

Sources tell Globes that as part of the “intensive lobbying efforts” by Lockheed Martin, the company has promised that its reciprocal investment in Israel will be increased as part of the deal.