Israel adding F-35 fighter jets to Lockheed Martin order


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel will add another 10 to 15 F-35 stealth fighter jets to its order of 19 from Lockheed Martin.

Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence minister, told Reuters on Monday that the Cabinet had approved the purchase. The number is below the additional 25 to 31 planes reportedly sought by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.

“We are not the Defense Ministry’s rubber stamp,” Steinitz told the news agency.

Israel, facing budget restraints, recently canceled an order of the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. Israel first ordered 19 F-35s for $2.75 billion in 2010.

While led by the U.S.-based Lockheed Martin, the F-35, or Joint Stealth Fighter, is a joint project of a number of nations.

“The JSF program is central to the United States unwavering support for enhancing Israel’s qualitative military edge,” a Pentagon spokesman told JTA.

Israeli companies are manufacturing the jet’s wings and helmets for its pilots.

Planes will begin delivery to clients between 2016 and 2018.

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