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Israel to buy another F-35 squadron in $3 billion deal

The 25 stealth aircraft will bring the Israel Air Force's total to 75.

An Israeli Air Force Lockheed Martin F-35 Adir (Lightning II) stealth multirole combat aircraft with weapons bay open over Hatzerim Air Base near Beersheva, June 27, 2017. Photo by Yissachar Ruas/TPS.
An Israeli Air Force Lockheed Martin F-35 Adir (Lightning II) stealth multirole combat aircraft with weapons bay open over Hatzerim Air Base near Beersheva, June 27, 2017. Photo by Yissachar Ruas/TPS.

Israel will move forward with purchasing a new squadron of U.S.-made F-35 stealth combat jets in a $3 billion deal, the Defense Ministry announced on Sunday.

The purchase of 25 additional F-35s from the Maryland-based Lockheed Martin would bring Israel’s fleet of stealth jets to 75.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant approved the purchase on the recommendation of Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi.

Israeli officials will issue a procurement request to the American F-35 Directorate, with the transaction to be signed in the coming months.

Other U.S. companies involved include the Connecticut-based Pratt and Whitney, which produces the planes’ engines.

The aircraft was first used in combat in 2018 by the Israel Air Force.

The Defense Ministry said the planes were being financed through U.S. military assistance.

In 2016, Israel and the U.S. signed a 10-year, $38 billion memorandum of understanding providing a framework for military assistance. The assistance primarily comes through the U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program and the U.S. Department of Defense’s share in the financing of joint projects, such as missile defense systems.

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