TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli firms have received 3 billion shekels ($770 million) worth of work from Lockheed Martin Corp. as part of an industrial cooperation package associated with Israel's purchase of F-35I stealth fighters, the Israeli Defense Ministry announced Sunday.
"The amount of offsets from the producer of the stealth fighter to the Israeli defense industry has reached a record 3 billion shekels," the Ministry announced Dec. 20.
It cited Elbit Systems Ltd., producers of the F-35 helmet mounted display system (HDMS) and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), producers of wing sets, as the two largest recipients of so-called industrial cooperation, yet noted that smaller firms throughout the country had also received work as a result of Israel's F-35 procurement.
Ultimately, Israeli industrial cooperation is expected to exceed $4 billion, if Israel elects to procure all 75 aircraft approved by Washington for export to the Jewish State.
So far, Israel has contracted for 33 aircraft; a first batch of 19 signed in 2010 and another 14 finalized in February of this year. Israel's recently approved Plan Gideon, a multiyear procurement blueprint through 2020, calls for another 17 aircraft, sources here said.
When Israel first approved purchase of its initial tranche of F-35 fighters, the Defense Ministry announced that buyback from Lockheed Martin could ultimately grow to $5 billion.
Opall-Rome is Israel bureau chief for Defense News. She has been covering U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, Mideast security and missile defense since May 1988. She lives north of Tel Aviv. Visit her website at www.opall-rome.com.