Israeli gov’t OKs purchase of 14 stealth fighter jets from Lockheed Martin


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Cabinet approved the immediate purchase of 14 F-35 stealth fighter jets from the American company Lockheed Martin.

The approval on Sunday also includes an option to order 17 more jets in 2017.

Israel first ordered 19 F-35s for $2.75 billion in 2010; those planes are set to arrive in 2016.

The $3 billion deal for the 14 jets was agreed to in October by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel during a meeting in Washington.

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz opposed the decision, saying the money could be used for more important equipment. He pointed out that the F-35 program has been slowed by manufacturing and other problems.

While led by Lockheed Martin, the F-35 is a joint project of a number of nations. Israeli companies are manufacturing the jet’s wings and helmets for its pilots.

Yaalon early last month canceled a planned purchase from the United States of the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, which hovers and lands like a helicopter and flies like an airplane, due to budget cuts and changing military priorities.

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