NEW YORK — The Israeli government has signed a contract to buy American-made F-35 stealth fighter jets on Thursday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the purchase would significantly strengthen Israel's military, but gave no other details.
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Under the contract signed in New York on Thursday by Ehud Shani, director general of the Defense Ministry, Israel will get 20 of the warplanes for nearly $3 billion and will receive the jets in 2016. It has an option for 75 more.
A fifth-generation stealth jet, the F-35 is said to be capable of evading all radars and anti-aircraft missile systems.
“The F-35 will provide Israel with continued air superiority and help
retain its qualitative military edge in the region,” Defense Minister
Ehud Barak said last month. “The plane will provide the air force with
improved capabilities in ensuring Israel’s security when operating near
and far away.”
The first batch will have a configuration similar to those used by the
US Air Force, with minor changes. The second batch, likely to arrive in
the second half of the decade, will already be designed according to
Israeli specifications and include locally-designed and manufactured
The one Israeli company currently involved in the F-35’s production is
Elbit Systems Ltd., whose helmet will be used by JSF pilots.