From the earliest years of the Joint Strike Fighter/F-35 program to the present, Israel has continually displayed a heavy interest in buying the fifth generation multirole stealth fighter for the Israeli Air Force (IAF). At the moment, the IAF has plans to procure the F-35A Lightning II, the land-based conventional takeoff version which will be the most widely-produced iteration of the F-35 series. Redesignated the F-35I, it’ll feature Israeli-designed and manufactured weapons systems and avionics, built to the specifications of the IAF and the pilots who’ll be flying these jets. But, according to The Jerusalem Post, Israel has also recently shown interest in purchasing the F-35B, the STOVL variant of the F-35 series, as well.
Currently flown by the United States Marine Corps, the F-35B is a shipborne short takeoff/vertical landing fighter able to prosecute air-to-ground attacks or be reconfigured to fly air-to-air missions, albeit with a agility disadvantage, as this particular version of the F-35 is limited to maneuvering within an envelope of 7Gs, while the others can generally reach 9Gs with ease. A replacement for the AV-8B Harrier II jumpjet with the Marine Corps, and the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm’s long-retired Sea Harriers, it’ll serve aboard aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships to provide an air support element to battle groups or embarked detachments of Marines. Israel doesn’t have any aircraft carriers or assault ships of its own, but instead, would potentially use the F-35Bs in the event that its airbases are attacked and runways destroyed. The vertical/short takeoff capabilities of the F-35B make it extremely versatile in deployment.