Israel is holding talks with the US to acquire an additional 20 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets, a top Israeli military official says.
Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi said that Israel would welcome another 20 fighter jets on the heels of a deal signed in October to buy about 20 of the radar-evading jets at a cost of about $96 million per aircraft.
"As I understand (and that’s the latest information I have on this issue) it’s still under negotiation between the Israeli government and the US administration," he said at a joint press conference with the Chairman of the US Joints Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen in Washington on Wednesday.
Ashkenazi said that he did not know anything about the final decision.
Some media had reported that the US administration has offered the additional jets to Israel in exchange for a three-month freeze on construction of new settlements.
Israel signaled on Tuesday it had delayed deciding on the US proposal, saying it wanted the ideas in writing.
Israeli sources said the proposals, made verbally during a meeting between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York last week, included an F-35 offer worth $3 billion and pledges of enhanced US diplomatic support at the UN.
Israel has said the first batch of the fighter jets will be received from 2015 through 2017.