Israel (GPA) – The office of the Israeli Prime Minister issued a statement Sunday that the country would be adding 17 new F-35 stealth fighters to their Air Force.
The 17 new jets would bring the total number of stealth fighters in the Israeli arsenal up to 50. This will create the capability for Israel to run two full squadrons of the jets.
The F-35, nicknamed the Adir (translated to glorious or mighty in Hebrew) is a stealth fighter manufactured by Lockheed Martin. The fighter is capable of vertical takeoff, supersonic speeds, and evading radar.
The order comes as part of the recent procurement deal cut between Israel and the United States that was worth an estimated $38 billion. Israel’s national defense companies manufacture some parts of the fighters and Israeli contractors make things like helmets. The jets final price tag usually comes in somewhere around $100-110 million.
Israeli public radio reported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying that the order was “to strengthen Israel’s security and ensure its existence in the coming decades.” and that the jets would allow Israel to “defend itself with its own forces against all of its enemies, whatever the distance.”
Clearly, Israel doesn’t need jets with this level of capability to continue the oppression of Palestinians; the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are fully capable of doing that on ground level. This has led some to question exactly what enemies Israel would expect to need to turn these new weapons on.
Most analysts against Israel’s regional hegemony have put forward a few guesses, number one being Iran. Iran has agreed to not pursue development of nuclear weapons as part of the deal negotiated with the United States but still has nuclear power and research facilities which are protected by Russian anti-aircraft systems. Israel has already made plans in the past to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities but was only stopped by the Obama administration’s refusal to cooperate in opening a new war.
Other potential targets could include any country who doesn’t cooperate with Israel to shape the Middle East the way they choose. There have already been diplomatic backdoor deals to undermine countries like Syria; who also uses Russian missile defense systems to protect assets. Hezbollah has also been attacked with Israeli air power and this could also be another step towards bypassing their defenses.
Diplomatic ideas spearheaded by the US to undermine national sovereignty and self-determination have already failed in toppling the targets for regime change selected by the US and Israel. Extending Israeli air power and giving them further capability as a US mercenary partner is probably the most logical next step. With a new administration (that is anti-Iran and even friendlier to Israel) entering the White House in January the country may find itself with more freedom to use these new assets.