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Israeli air force debates purchase of F-35 fighter planes

As the Syrian, Lebanese and Turkish skies grow ever more crowded with Russian, American, British and Saudi fighter jets, Israel has decided to purchase more F-35s of its own.
The fourth U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft arrives at the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada in this April 24, 2013 photo released on May 8, 2013. Picture taken April 24, 2013.   Daniel Hughes/U.S. Air Force/Handout via Reuters  (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY TRANSPORT) ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, A

A complicated argument is underway in the innermost sanctum of Israel’s Security Cabinet. On one hand, several decision-makers are asking tough questions about Israel’s plans to purchase F-35 stealth fighter jets. Even some defense officials do not wholeheartedly support the size and scope of the deal. One the other hand, most of the military establishment, particularly the air force, supports the deal. These officials consider the purchase vital to maintaining Israel’s aerial superiority in the Middle East, a task that only gets tougher as the years go by.

If the third stage of Israel’s deal with Lockheed Martin is approved, the total number of stealth fighters in the Israeli air force will reach 50. Two squadrons have already been purchased, and Israel has the option to acquire 17 more.

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