JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel plans to buy a second batch of Lockheed Martin's F-35 stealth fighter jets, bringing the total number it has on order to about 44, Israeli defence sources said on Tuesday.
Israel bought 19 F-35s for $2.75 billion in 2010, a deal that included options for up to 75 of the planes. Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, visiting the United States last week, placed a preliminary order for about 25 more F-35s, defence sources said without elaborating on the cost.
The first batch of planes is scheduled to arrive in Israel between 2016 and 2018, the sources said, noting that the second purchase needs final approval by an Israeli government panel.
The U.S. embassy in Israel had no immediate comment.
Washington gives Israel some $3 billion in annual defence grants, most of which it spends on U.S. products. Israeli companies, including Elbit Systems Ltd. and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), are contributing technologies to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme.
(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Louise Ireland)