JERUSALEM, July 2 (Xinhua) — The Israeli Ministry of Defense announced on Sunday that Israel will buy 25 F-35 aircraft from the United States, a deal that will increase Israel’s stealth fighter arsenal by 50 percent.
F-35 is the most advanced fighter jet in the world, and Israel is the only country in the Middle East that has F-35 fighter jets. The $3 billion purchase, which is expected to be completed in the coming months, will increase Israel’s F-35 fleet from 50 to 75, the Defense Ministry said.
Funding for the deal will be provided through U.S. military aid to Israel, and planemaker Lockheed Martin and its engine maker Pratt & Whitney have pledged to involve Israeli companies in the production process, the company said.
“The new agreement will ensure continued cooperation between US companies and the Israeli defense industry in the production of aircraft components,” the statement said.
Israel’s move to expand its nuclear arsenal comes at a time of rising tensions between Israel and Iran. Israel regards Iran as its greatest enemy. It has previously used F-35 fighter jets to shoot down Iranian drones and threatened to carry out long-range strikes on Iranian nuclear targets.
Israel accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons – an accusation Tehran denies – and is believed to be behind a series of attacks on Iranian nuclear experts and facilities inside Iran over the years.
Israel is trying to counter Iran’s grip in neighboring Syria, launching an airstrike on the Syrian city of Homs on Sunday, one of hundreds of strikes on government-held areas in recent years. (Associated Press)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a syndicated news feed, the latest staff may not have modified or edited the body of content)