JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli defense officials say they have decided to buy several Italian military training jets in a deal valued at $1 billion.

The deal marks the end of a long competition between Italy and South Korea over the lucrative contract.

Israel is purchasing the M-346 planes to replace its fleet of older American Skyhawks. The planes are made by the Italian company Alenia Aermacchi and designed for long flights at low cost.

Israeli defense officials confirmed the decision on Thursday. They spoke on condition of anonymity pending a formal announcement.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.