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Israel to delay F-35 stealth aircraft deal

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A file photo of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter .

NEW DELHI (BNS): Israel is likely to postpone the Fifth-generation stealth F-35 Joint Strike Fighter deal with US, which was set to be signed by the end of March 2010, a media report said.

“Everything now appears to be pushed off by at least a year,” The Jerusalem Post quoted a senior official as saying.

Chief of Israel Defence Force (IDF) General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi plans to speak with his American counterpart, Adm. Michael Mullen, and other Pentagon officials about the delays in the production of the JSF and how it will affect the IDF.

According to the English daily, US Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said that the F-35 would not be ready for the US Air Force until 2015, the date that Israel had initially wanted to begin receiving the stealth aircraft.

“If the Americans are only getting the plane in 2015, then it is difficult to imagine that we will receive it the same time, he said, adding, that the Air Force was currently in talks with the Pentagon about locking down a delivery date.”

The F-35 deal is facing delays as US is not willing to integrate Israeli’s indigenous technology into the aircraft. The IAF plans to phase out old-model F-16s after it receives the F-35.

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