Israel Planning To Increase F-35 Buy

Israel Planning To Increase F-35 Buy

Israel is set to place a second order of F-35 joint strike fighters, bringing its planned procurement of the stealthy, fifth-generation jet up to 44.

Israel became the first country to purchase the F-35 through a foreign military sales (FMS) program when it agreed in 2010 to procure 19 conventional-takeoff-and-landing F-35A models. The new order will involve adding 25 F-35A fighters.

Interactive map of the F-35 program

An official from the Joint Program Office confirmed the news, first reported by Reuters, but declined further comment.

It has been a good week for the F-35 program, with the Joint Program Office and contractor Lockheed Martin reaching an agreement on the eighth production lot of the jets. That lot, which includes the first two F-35A jets for Israel and the first four F-35A jets for fellow FMS customer Japan, will begin production in 2016.

Israel increasing its order is a sign of trust in a program that notoriously struggled for much of its history. It also represents a potential impact on the bottom-line cost for the US, the eight international partners and the three FMS customers who all have a stake in the F-35.

Officials from the industry and Pentagon sides of the program have emphasized that while cost-reduction programs are ongoing, the biggest way to drive costs down on the F-35 program is to increase the number of jets being purchased.

Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the F-35 program head, has said that 80 cents on every dollar of potential savings for the program comes from economies of scale.

“In the next three years, we double production, and in the next five years we triple production,” Bogdan said in September. “So there is a significant ramp coming to us. Anytime a partner or service loses an airplane to the right, meaning I was going to take delivery of it here and I move it later, it affects everybody. We all sink or swim together.”

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