U.S. Seeking to Ground the Lavi

Israeli officials said Monday it could take some time before a final decision is reached on American proposals for an alternative to the Lavi, Israel’s second generation jet fighter plane.

U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Dov Zackheim, who arrived here Sunday night, is expected to propose at least five alternatives to the Lavi which the Pentagon believes is too costly to produce. Zackheim met Monday with Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin who was accompanied by Chief of Staff Gen. Moshe Levy and Air Force Commander Gen. Amos Lapidot.

Any decision on the future of the Lavi is not likely before Rabin’s scheduled meeting with Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger in Washington at the end of February. While Rabin may have an answer for the Americans at that time, final decision is expected only after a full debate on the issue by the Knesset plenum.

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