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Israel to Buy 17 F-35 Fighter Jets

Jerusalem: The Israeli security cabinet decided to purchase 17 additional F-35 stealth fighter jets from the United States on Sunday.

The Prime Minister’s Bureau said the new purchase will bring the number of F-35s in the Israel Air Force to 50.

The state-of-the-art F-35 in Israel, is considered to be the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft. Now, the additional purchase will enable Israel’s Air Force to outfit two full squadrons of the plane.

The planes, produced by Lockheed Martin, are being purchased as part of the military aid agreement between the United States and Israel. The price of each individual plan is estimated at about $110 million.

In 2014, the security cabinet decided to buy an initial 14 jets, instead of a planned 31, for budgetary reasons. One of the main opponents of the plan to buy a larger number of F-35s was then-Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, who said at the time that the cabinet did not need to be a rubber stamp for the defense establishment.

The first F-35 squadron is now being established and Israel’s first pair of F-35s are scheduled to land in Israel at the Nevatim air force base near Be’er Sheva in two weeks.