During the weekend Israel has received three F-35 stealth fighter jets from the United States and thus became the first country, except USA, to have access to the ultra-modern nearly invisible warplane, which is considered the most expensive type ever developed.
Israel’s older squadrons of F-15s and F-16s, which have been in use since the 1970s, are due to be gradually replaced with newer version and the country expects to have the first squadron of F-35s ready for combat before the end of the year. Israel has offered 50 aircraft from the manufacturer Lockheed Martin so far.
Each plane costs around $100 mln and is described by Lockheed as “virtually invisible” due to its advanced stealth capabilities, reportedly allowing it to evade even the most sophisticated anti-aircraft missile systems.
Israel, however, is not going to pay for the F-35s. The cost will be covered by the US taxpayers due to the military aid the country receives from Washington, amounting to $3 billion annually. This is part of a 10-year deal agreed by Obama government shortly before he stepped down.
United States have received a lot of criticism for their support of Israel’s armament.
“Israel would never have been able to build its military might without the US – and now it will have even greater freedom to wreak suffering across the region,” Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian National Initiative party, told Al Jazeera. “The US has turned a blind eye as Israel has used its advanced weapons against Lebanon, Gaza, Syria and elsewhere.”