Israel to buy US stealth fighters
* From correspondents in Jerusalem
* From: AFP
* September 17, 2010 5:05AM
THE Israeli government has given final approval to the purchase of F-35
stealth fighter jets from the United States, in one of the Jewish
state's largest-ever arms purchases.
"Purchasing the most advanced fighter jets in the world is an important
step in strengthening the state of Israel's military power," Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said overnight.
The decision by a ministerial committee headed by Mr Netanyahu and
Defence Minister Ehud Barak marked the final approval for the move that
was announced last month by Mr Barak.
Mr Netanyahu did not specify the number of jets Israel planned to buy.
However, media reports have indicated Israel was looking to initially
purchase 20 of the aircraft in a deal worth an estimated $US2.75
billion ($2.93 billion).
Deliveries of the first F-35s, which are not yet operational, are
expected only in 2015.
Defence ministry officials have said a key element of the deal was an
agreement which would allow Israeli industries to get involved in the
assembly of the plane and the manufacture of spares.
Acquisition of the F-35, which is made by US aerospace and defence
giant Lockheed Martin, will give Israel access to stealth technology
that will provide it with air superiority over enemy anti-aircraft