Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $42 million contract by Israel’s Defense Ministry to conduct “expansive maintenance services to the State of Israel,” as well as to operate and maintain an F-35 training center southeast of Beersheva over the next decade, announced the ministry.
Additionally, the U.S. defense contractor will hire about 25 new workers from Israel’s southern area.
Israel will cover half of the cost over the next five years, with the remainder conditional on a five-year extension.
“This project is of great strategic importance, particularly for the independence of the Israel Air Force, both in routine and emergency scenarios, but also for the economic growth of Israel’s south,” said Zeev Landau, the head of procurement for the navy and air force at the Defense Ministry.
The IAF currently has 14 F-35I Adir (“Mighty Ones”) aircraft built by Lockheed, and is expected to receive a total of 50 planes to make two full squadrons by 2024.
The first nine F-35s became operational with the Israeli Air Force in December 2017.