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Egyptian instability could prompt Israeli fighter drive

The Israeli air force could ask for special budgets to bolster its capabilities as a direct outcome of the political change in Egypt and its knock-on effect on other Arab countries, says a leading Israeli analyst.

Assaf Agmon, a retired air force brigadier general and head of the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, says the new reality in the Middle East requires the nation to reassess the operational needs of its military. "The effects will be on all the Israeli armed forces," he believes.

The air force could seek to enhance its current structure by adding fourth- or fifth-generation fighters and enhancing its stand-off-range intelligence-gathering capabilities.

"If special budgets are allocated to enhance the Israeli air force's capabilities they should be used for more [Lockheed Martin] F-35s," Agmon says.

Israel has already agreed to buy an initial batch of around 20 conventional take-off and landing F-35As for $2.75 billion, but Lockheed has projected that its requirement could eventually grow to 75 examples.

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