IAF Chief Brig. Gen. Tal Kelman, who participated on Thursday in the rollout ceremony for the first F-35 “Adir” single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighter at the Lockheed Martin factory in Dallas, sees the first 50 jets Israel will be receiving over the next few years as only a beginning. “We want to reach 75 jets,” Kelman told the IAF blog. “The Israeli F-35 is the first fifth generation fighter to arrive in the Middle East, and it will allow us to open a significant gap in our abilities when facing all of the elements in the area.”
According to Kelman, the IAF is already examining the F-35B model equipped with the ability to take off from very short runways and land vertically. “We want the first 50 jets to be A models, but beyond this, we are examining the options. The F-35B may be limited relatively to the A model regarding the amount of munitions it can carry, but has other advantages that may aid us in different scenarios.”
The “Adir” is expected to completely change the face of the IAF and introduce new abilities into the force. “A few months ago I had the privilege of flying the F-35 simulator here in Fort Worth,” Kelman related. “As a pilot that has flown a great variety of aircraft for over 30 years, I must share the feeling: It was like holding the future in my hands. The unique combination between split edge technology, lethality and amazing man-machine interface will lead the world to the fifth generation.”
“The F-35 which will be received by the IAF with open arms this coming December will substantially enhance our operational capabilities,” Kelman predicted. “The new aircraft will bring with it new strength. There is no doubt that the F-35 will become an integral part of our defense system and allow us to better ensure the safety of our civilians — against our hostile neighbors, and against the complex threats which may escalate at a moment’s notice. I don’t think that it is an exaggeration to say that the presence of the F-35 in the Middle East will change the dynamic of the region for the better.”
The Israeli F-35s will be based at Nevatim Airbase in the Negev, where the IAF is constructing its own maintenance center for the aircraft. The decision to locate them down south was based on operational, environmental, infrastructure and training considerations, as well as the IDF’s strategic vision to transfer some of its bases to the region.
Israel is the first US ally to receive the aircraft when its deliveries begin in December, and it is the only country allowed to modify the F-35, according to a report in Wired. According to Wired, Brig. Gen. Kalman has suggested that Israel’s “unique requirements” justify a degree of autonomy with the F-35. When you might go to war at any moment, Kalman argued, you can’t have your best hardware go out of service for weeks at a time for checkouts that can take just a few days on your own turf.
According to Wired, It helps that the key piece of software Israel is adding to the F-35 is a free-standing, add-on app for command, control, communications and computing. The app draws data streams from the F-35’s own open-architecture operating system in order to provide additional functionality.
As Benni Cohen, a general manager at Israel Aerospace Industries, told Wired, the app gives the air force an easy tool for adapting the F-35 to its own needs. “[Our] open-system architecture enables rapid software and hardware development cycles that will also provide more affordable modernization and support of systems over the platform’s life cycle,” Cohen said.JNi.Media