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Israel Closer to Acquiring F-35s: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday approved the Israeli Air Force's request to purchase the F-35 strike fighter, according to press reports. The next step is for the Israeli cabinet to sign off on the acquisition. Back in September 2008, the US approved the sale of up to 75 F-35s to Israel. Initially the Israelis were expected to buy 25 aircraft in the first batch. However, the US ally is now expected to acquire about 20 initially, with deliveries starting in late 2015. The Jerusalem Post reported that, due to cost issues, those first 20-some aircraft will be configured like the standard US version. But latter F-35s batches will be designed according to Israeli specifications and include Israeli-made systems. This news comes just one week after the Obama Administration's plans to sell Saudi Arabia 84 advanced F-15 fighters surfaced. (See also AFP report)