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Israel Might Reconsider Buying 75 U.S. F-16 Fighter-bombers

Israel might reconsider its decision to buy 75 American F-16 jet fighter-bombers for economic reasons, it was reported here today.

Defense Minister Moshe Arens is believed to want the advanced aircraft, but their total cost of $3 billion could be a deterrent at a time when the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Israel are urging drastic budget cuts. According to reports, Israel would buy the planes, but fewer than 75 of them.

The F-16s were a cause of friction with the U.S. last year when President Reagan suspended the sales process because of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. The sale was reinstated after Israel and Lebanon signed their withdrawal agreement last May 17. But the delay escalated the cost of the planes.