JERUSALEM, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Israel is getting nearer to a deal with the United States for the purchase of the F-35 fighter jets, as the two sides have recently reached understandings on a number of Israel's demands, local media reported on Wednesday.
"There is understanding today on the main basic issues," a top Israeli officer was quoted by local daily The Jerusalem Post as saying.
The progress followed a series of recent visits by top Israel Air Force (IAF) officials to Washington. On the sidelines of the Paris Air Show, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak also held meetings with top officials from Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the advanced warplane.
The IAF demands focused on three issues: integration of Israeli electronic warfare systems into the plane, integration of Israeli communication systems, and ability to independently maintain the plane in the event of a technical or structural problem, according to the report.
In order to ease Pentagon's concern that installation of Israeli systems might expose top-secret technology, the Israeli side has reportedly presented a proposal to bypass the computer mainframe of the fighter jet when installing the systems.
Meanwhile, Israel argued that due to operational requirements, it needs to have the ability to repair damaged or broken computer systems in "real time" and cannot wait for them to be sent to Europe for repairs in the middle of a war. To this demand, the Americans have given their consent, top officials were quoted as saying.
Once a complete understanding is reached, the IAF plans to issue an official letter of request for the stealth warplane, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter in the coming weeks, which would be followed by a contract next year, according to the report.
The Jewish state intended to acquire 25 aircraft in the first step, which would comprise Israel's first F-35 squadron, said the report, adding that should the letter of request be issued this year, delivery of the planes would begin in 2014.
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