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Israel to Buy 17 More F-35 Fighter Jets From US

An F-35 arrives at its operational base at Hill Air Force Base, in the U.S. state of Utah, Sept. 2, 2015. Israel says it will buy 17 more of the highly sophisticated war planes, bringing the total number in its fleet to 50.

Israel says it will buy 17 more highly sophisticated F-35 fighter jets from the United States.

The purchase, approved by the country’s security cabinet, will bring the total number of the advanced aircraft in the Israeli fleet to 50. The first jet of the new purchase order is expected to be delivered in just a few weeks.

Lockheed-Martin builds the F-35, which is designed to avoid enemy radar even while flying at supersonic speeds.

It also is one of the most expensive pieces of military equipment the U.S. military has in its arsenal.

Israeli public radio quotes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying the planes will strengthen Israeli security and ensure the country's existence for decades.

"Israel can defend itself with its own forces against all its enemies, whatever the distance," he is quoted as saying.

Russian airstrikes in neighboring Syria along with Iranian threats to wipe out the Jewish state have made Israel wary of the dangers it faces in its unstable backyard.

The F-35 purchase is part of the 10-year, $38 billion U.S. military aid package for Israel President Barack Obama signed in September.