The Israeli air force plans to close one of its Lockheed Martin F-16C/D squadrons in 2017, in parallel with the service's new-generation F-35 "Adir" achieving initial operational capability.
Halting operations with the F-16C/D unit will be part of a major adjustment programme aimed at tailoring the air force's inventory to future challenges, while taking into account the limitations of the nation's defence budget.
Earlier this year, a contract was signed for the purchase of another 14 F-35 (Adir) fighters for the Israeli air force. The service and defence ministry had wanted to 31, but strong opposition in the Israeli cabinet limited the number in a $2.82 billion deal. The order includes options for the 17 additional aircraft, and Flightglobal has previously quoted defence ministry sources as saying efforts will continue to acquire the additional number needed to match the air force's operational needs.
According to the Israeli defence ministry – which signed a first, 19-aircraft order in 2010 – the first two F-35s will land in the nation at the end of 2016.
Flightglobal's Fleets Analyzer database records Israel as operating 77 F-16C fighters and 48 D-model trainers.