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IDF General Staff Reported to Have Urged Dropping Lavi Jet

The Israel Defense Force General Staff has recommended abandonment of the Lavi fighter plane project in favor of acquiring additional American-made F16C jet fighters, according to media reports Tuesday which quoted “well placed sources.”

The General Staff proposed that Israel apply the rest of the money slated for the Lavi to other development and procurement programs, the reports said.

The Lavi, Israel’s second-generation ground-support fighter aircraft, is being tested by its manufacturer, Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), which plans to put it into production in two years.

But the fate of the project is clouded by American objections to the Lavi on grounds it is too expensive. The F-16C, an advanced aircraft that Israel has equipped with its own computer systems, is less expensive.

According to reports Tuesday, aides to Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin are examining several alternatives to the Lavi proposed by U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Dov Zakheim when he visited Israel in January.

They include building F-16s in Israel or purchasing either F-15, F-18 or Harrier jets.

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