The Israeli Air Force (IAF) took a major step towards the acquisition of its first squadron of F-35 stealth fighter jets after submitting an official Letter of Request (LOR) to the Pentagon, according to JPost. The Lockheed Martin manufactured F-35 is considered one of the most-advanced fighter jets in the world. The LOR for 25 planes would allow Israel to phase out some of its older F-15 and F-16 models.
Defense officials said negotiations regarding the final price of the plane - estimated at around $100 million - as well as the integration of Israeli systems are ongoing. A contract is expected to be signed in the beginning of 2010 with the first aircraft arriving in Israel in 2014. In a later stage, the IAF plans to purchase an additional 50 aircraft, some of them with vertical take-off and landing capabilities.