Israel has approached the USA about acquiring Lockheed Martin F-22s as concern mounts about new threats to the country's regional air superiority.

Sources say the issue was raised during a one-day trip by US defence secretary Robert Gates to Israel last week.

Washington has so far not authorised the export of the Raptor stealth fighter, but sources in Israel say this is the first time a "reasonable" request has been made.

Among the subjects discussed with the country's prime minister and defence minister were Israel's concerns about the USA's possible sale of advanced weaponry to Saudi Arabia and the Israeli intelligence assessment of the Iranian nuclear programme.

Source: Flight International