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Friday, 7 September, 2001, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Israel buys 52 more US jet-fighters
Picture courtesy of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company (
The F-16I makes up the backbone of Israel's air force
Israel has signed a contract to receive 52 F-16I fighter-bombers from the US firm Lockheed Martin having bought 50 of the aircraft last year.

The deal comes as an amendment to the original January 2000 deal, which gave Israel the option to purchase more of the planes.

Israel's sixth acquisition of F-16s demonstrates their continued confidence in the F-16I to satisfy their future defence needs

Lockheed Martin president Dain Hancoc
Lockheed Martin will deliver the same two-seat F-16I configuration as in the previous order, with deliveries expected to start in 2006 and end in 2009.

The funding for the $2 billion contract will come from the US military aid budget, which awards that amount to Israel on an annual basis.

Correspondents say the F-16I is considered one of the most advanced fighter-bombers in the world and has been equipped with advanced fuel tanks that extend its range.

Major importers

With an aerial arsenal already including an estimated 250 F-16s, Israel has the largest fleet of of the aircraft outside of the US. Egypt has the second-largest foreign F-16 fleet.

"Israel's sixth acquisition of F-16s demonstrates their continued confidence in the F-16I to satisfy their future defence needs," Lockheed Martin president Dain Hancock said.

The first planes from the earlier order are due to be delivered in 2003.

The agreement covers aircraft, logistics support, training, and other services.

The new planes will include a number of systems produced by local Israeli companies, Lockheed Martin said.

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