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Israel holds firm on increasing F-35 purchase

Israel's desire to acquire additional examples of the Lockheed Martin F-35 is likely to be advanced even if Washington does not agree to increase the level of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) made available to the nation.

The Israeli government has asked its US counterpart for a 10-year FMF package that will include an annual grant of $4.1 billion. Negotiations are continuing in an effort to reach agreement while US President Barack Obama is still in office. However, speaking on 13 April, Israeli sources said the purchase of additional F-35s is "already in the pipeline", regardless of whether the requested funding increase is approved.

Israel has signed contracts for the purchase of 33 conventional take-off and landing F-35As. Assembly work on the lead example began this year at Lockheed's Fort Worth site in Texas, and deliveries are expected to begin early next year.

The Israeli air force has expressed an operational requirement for additional examples of the Lightning II, with the further units to enable it to equip two squadrons.

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