TEL AVIV — Israel's Defense Ministry announced Sunday that completed industrial cooperation or buy-back contracts with Lockheed Martin on the F-35 program surpassed the $1 billion benchmark since Israel signed its first contract in 2010 for an initial 19 fighters.

According to Avi Dadon, the MoD's deputy director of purchasing, Israeli firms entered into $258 million worth of new contracts during 2016, a 33 percent surge from the previous year.

"The scope of industrial cooperation between [Lockheed Martin] and Israeli industries, just in the past year, illustrates the big, raw potential of this deal to the Israeli economy," Dadon said.

Key Israeli suppliers to Lockheed Martin for the year that just closed include Elbit Systems, which together with Rockwell Collins expanded their production contract for sensor-fuzed helmets by $206 million; and Israel Aerospace Industries, which received a $26 million follow-on contract for wing sets.

Two other Elbit subsidiaries — Cyclone and Tadiran — also scored orders exceeding $20 million last year for structural components and radio amplifiers respectively.

Dadon noted that several Lockheed Martin contracts were extended to small firms in northern Israel to support industries near the "line of confrontation" along the border with Lebanon.

He said the MoD aimed to work in the coming year "to further deepen" industrial cooperation associated with Israel's F-35 program.

Israel is now negotiating its third contract for another 17 F-35A fighters, which will bring the Israeli Air Force's inventory to 50.

In an interview late last year, Jack Crisler, Lockheed Martin's vice president for F-35 business development, said Israeli technology was benefiting not only those planes destined for the Israeli Air Force, but in many cases, all partner and customer nations of the fifth-generation fighter.

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