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Israel to buy 17 additional F-35 fighters

By Ryan Maass
Israel's security cabinet approved the purchase of 17 additional F-35 aircraft, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office announced, which will bring his country's F-35 fleet to 50 aircraft. Photo by MSgt John Nimmo Sr./U.S. Air Force
Israel's security cabinet approved the purchase of 17 additional F-35 aircraft, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office announced, which will bring his country's F-35 fleet to 50 aircraft. Photo by MSgt John Nimmo Sr./U.S. Air Force

JERUSALEM, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The government of Israel has approved the purchase of 17 additional Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

The approval, announced in a statement by the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will bring the total number of Israeli-owned F-35 jets to 50. Officials have not yet specified the cost of the package.

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Israel entered the F-35 program in October 2010, and became the first country to select the fifth-generation aircraft through the U.S. government's Foreign Military Sales program. The Israeli Air Force received its first F-35 on June 22, 2016. The country hopes to use the aircraft to replace its aging fleet of F-15s and F-16s.

F-35 deals have poured over $778 million into Israel's defense industry, and has involved 6 of the country's own contractors.

Netanyahu's announcement comes as Israeli forces commence airstrikes against the Islamic State, radical Sunni militants based in Iraq and Syria. Four militants were declared dead after Israeli forces responded to gunfire in Golan Heights.

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