JERUSALEM (ISRAEL) – Israel’s defence minister said on Monday that he wants the country to expand the stealth F-35 warplanes squadron. He stated that he was hoping to seal the deal before from the United States before President Donald Trump steps down on Jan. 20.
Last year the Trump administration had approved a possible F-35 sale to the United Arab Emirates. After which Israel has been in talks with Washington on how to preserve its military advantage after last year since the plane was previously available only to Israel in the region.
“Without doubt, we need to expand the F-35 array. Right now we have two squadrons. I reckon we will expand that. That is what I requested of the Americans,” Defence Minister Benny Gantz told Ynet TV.
“I would buy another F-35 squadron and then examine what to do with the balance – continuing to expand the F-35 (procurement), going for F-15s?”
Gantz did not specify the number of F-35s in the proposed new squadron. Defence officials have said the two squadrons already ordered by Israel consist of 50 planes.
Asked if Israel might complete a defence procurement deal with the United States before Trump steps down, he said: “I hope so. I think the defence budget needs to be handled properly, to be safeguarded. It is a kind of active insurance policy.”
The F-35 is made by Lockheed Martin Corp and the F-15 by Boeing Co.