(Clarifies and corrects original version to make clear Lockheed Martin executives did not mention F-22 purchase in recent meetings in Israel.)

Israel may renew its request for the acquisition of Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor air superiority fighter from the incoming US administration, according to Israeli sources.

Separately, Lockheed Martin chief executive Robert Stevens told a 9 November press conference in Tel Aviv that he is optimistic that the US government will support his company’s bid to keep its F-22 production line live: "I anticipate that the Pentagon will release $140 million to let the next administration more easily extend production of the F-22."

While Lockheed is making efforts to keep its F-22 production line alive, the Israeli air force has again expressed interest in the stealth fighter. "This aircraft can be delivered in two years if the deal is approved, and that is very important for the security of Israel," comments one Israeli source.

 © Lockheed Martin

The main focus of Stevens visit to Israel was to discuss the nation's planned purchase of Lockheed's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Sources say a letter of agreement on acquiring the latter type should be signed next year, with first deliveries anticipated in 2014.

Israel's defence ministry issued a formal letter of request last May for the F-35, with this outlining an initial requirement for 25 US Air Force -configured, conventional take-off and landing F-35As, plus an option for another 50 aircraft.

Lockheed sources confirm that the latter could include the short take-off and vertical landing F-35B, although one Israeli source notes: "The price of this version may affect the decision whether to purchase it."

Source: Flight International