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Israel, U.S. Close on F-35 Deal

Israel, in what would be a huge vote of confidence for the Joint Strike fighter program at a time when many allies' support for the program is wavering, is within days of clinching a deal to buy the plane.

My colleague Andrea Shalal-Esa of Reuters broke the news and here's the nub of her story:

The United States and Israel are days away from reaching an agreement on the sale of 19 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 fighter jets, which would be the first foreign military sale of the new warplane.

"The ball is in their court," Vice Admiral Jeffrey Wieringa, who heads the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, told Reuters at the Farnborough Airshow.

This comes after Lockheed, increasingly worried about international support for the aircraft as countries across Europe perform in-depth defense spending reviews, sent a strong message yesterday that partners must, "keep to the program of record," as F-35 executive vice president Tom Burbage said. That will keep prices down, he noted.

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