Israel has signed a two billion dollar contract with American firm Lockheed Martin to buy 52 F-16I jets, one of the most advanced fighter-bombers in the world, the Jerusalem Post reported Friday, September 7.
The agreement, signed Thursday, is an amendment to an earlier Israeli order for 50 jets with an option to purchase more. The deal is for the same two-seat F-16I configuration as in the previous order, with deliveries expected between 2006 and 2009.
Most of the funding will come from the nearly two billion dollars in annual US military aid, the newspaper said. The new agreement covers aircraft, logistics support, training and other services.
Lockheed Martin and defense officials were reported saying the new planes will include a number of systems produced by local companies. "Israel's sixth acquisition of F-16s demonstrates their continued confidence in the F-16I to satisfy their future defense needs," Lockheed Martin president Dain Hancock said.
Israel is believed to have the largest fleet of F-16s outside of the US, with the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv reporting in 1995 there were 250 in Israel's aerial arsenal. ― (AFP, Jerusalem)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )