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Australia to Buy 58 Lockheed F-35 Jets for $12B

F35Australia will purchase 58 Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) F-35 fighter jets for nearly $11.64 billion in addition to the 14 planes the country ordered in 2009, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Matt Siegal and Andrea Shalal report that Australia intends to give its air force enough jets to create three operational squadrons and one training squadron through the new order.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at a news conference in Canberra that Australia will receive its first F-35 in 2018 and deploy an initial plane in 2020, the report said.

According to Bloomberg, Australia is buying the planes as it seeks to strike a balance in its relationships with both the U.S. and China.

Abbott told reporters in Canberra that the country holds an option to purchase 18 more F-35 jets, which would bring its total number of planes to 100, Bloomberg reports.

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