Israel is in advanced talks to acquire a second batch of F-35 fighter jets from the United States, The Jerusalem Post reported, citing unnamed Israeli defense sources.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in recent days finalized the terms of Israel's procurement of an undisclosed number of aircraft, according to the report, which noted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 's previous government made the decision to equip the air force with up to three F-35 squadrons, Xinhua reported.
The Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv declined to comment.
Developed and produced by the Lockheed Martin Corporation, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a fifth-generation aircraft with stealth capabilities that make it nearly invisible to radars operated by modern militaries, a feature that could facilitate the Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Citing the need to ensure its military's qualitative edge in the region, Israel ordered the first batch of 19 jets in a 2.75 billion U.S. dollars deal signed in 2012, which included Pentagon' s approval to sell an additional 55 F-35s.
Delivery of the first squadron, which will operate from the southern Nevatim Airbase, is expected in 2016-18, while the second squadron could become operational in 2019, according to the report.
It also quoted Israeli defense sources as saying that sealing a contract for the second batch of aircraft is conditional on the approval of a ministerial committee for defense purchases.