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Kuwait to buy new fleet of F-18 fighter jets from US

Government confirms $5bn agreement to deliver 28 advanced jets, in latest deal between US and Middle Eastern states
US F-18s over Afghanistan (Wikimedia)

Kuwait will buy 28 F-18 Super Hornets to replace a fleet of earlier versions of the US fighter jets, a top official said on Monday. 

The value of the deal is not expected to exceed $5bn, the KUNA state news agency reported the head of armament and procurement at Kuwait's defence ministry as saying.

Major General Lafi al-Azemi said the deal stipulates the supplier will buy the older Hornet fighter jets back from Kuwait.

The announcement was made a day after Israel said it was ordering 17 more US-made F-35 stealth fighter jets to take its fleet to 50 over next few years.

The US State Department this month said it has authorised the Kuwait deal, as well as the sale of 72 F-15 Strike Eagle jets to Kuwait's Gulf neighbour Qatar at an estimated value of $21bn.

In April, Kuwait signed a contract with Italy's Finmeccanica for the purchase of 28 Eurofighter Typhoons for $8.5bn.

Kuwait's parliament in March approved spending an additional $500m as an advance payment for the jets.

That funding came on top of $10bn additional defence spending already approved by parliament in January to upgrade the country's military.

The emirate is a member of the US-led coalition bombing Islamic State group targets in Syria and Iraq, and is also taking part in a Saudi-led coalition pounding Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.

Last year, it bought 24 Caracal military tactical transport helicopters and French light armoured vehicles.