An Israeli cabinet panel has rejected a decision of the defense minister to procure an additional 31 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and limited the procurement of Israel’s second batch of JSFs to only 13.

It is unprecedented that the ministerial committee on defense procurement would reverse an air force requirement that was already approved by the defense minister, the former government and the National Security Council. The Israel air force, which currently has 19 F-35s on order under a $2.74 billion contract, will have to be satisfied with a total of 32 aircraft in the coming years, and will not be able to complete two full squadrons as planned.

Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon, who had already concluded with the Pentagon the terms of a $4.4 billion contract for an additional 31 F-35s, is now asking the DOD to maintain the same terms for a smaller number of aircraft. The U.S. has agreed to grant Israel $2.4 billion in credit for the deal as well as to conduct offset procurement totaling $5.3 billion, under the expectation that Israel will acquire a total of 50 F-35s. The JSF procurement is financed through the $3.1 billion annual military aid that the U.S. provides to Israel. […]