The Defense Department said today it wants to sell up to 75 fighter jets to Israel in a $15.2 billion deal for the aircraft expected to be the mainstay of air power in the US and several other nations for decades. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said it notified Congress on Friday that Israel has asked to buy 25 of the F-35s made by Lockheed Martin Corp., with an option to buy an additional 50 at a later date.
The sale would be the first to a country outside of the US and eight partner nations that are collaborating on the F-35. The jet is still under development and is not yet in service, but the US plans to eventually acquire 2,458 planes for the Army, Marines and Air Force at a cost of $300 billion. The F-35 was designed as a replacement for a range of warplanes, including the F-16, which is a large component of many air forces worldwide.