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Israel May Select Plane Contractor This Week

May 31, 1999|Reuters

Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Arens said he would probably decide within days whether to award a $2.5-billion fighter plane contract to Boeing Co. or Lockheed Martin. A defense ministry official said the decision could come as soon as today at a meeting of top defense officials. Arens, part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's lame-duck government, said he had briefed Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak on the latest details in the tender. Barak, the victor in a May 17 election, is due to take office by early July. The two U.S. defense giants have brought down prices in recent weeks. Boeing said on Thursday it would commit to an additional $500 million in cooperation projects with Israeli firms if it won the tender. Israel's air force has said in closed-door meetings it prefers Lockheed's single-engine F-16 because of its lower price tag. Industry sources say Lockheed is offering the plane for $50 million.

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