The Israeli Defence Ministry has approved the purchase of US fifth-generation F-35 fighters, according to Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Under the $2.7bn deal, 20 aircraft will be purchased for $96m each including spare parts, maintenance, and simulators.

The F-35 joint strike fighter (JSF) is a single-seat, single-engine multirole fighter capable of performing close air support, tactical bombing, and air defence missions, allowing Israel to maintain air and technological superiority.

The purchase of F-35 fighters would eliminate the threat from Russian-made S-300 air defence systems, according to RIA Novosti.

The final approval of the purchase by Israel’s cabinet is expected by the end of next month and the warplanes are expected to be delivered between 2015 and 2017.