Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lockheed Martin by Andy Wolfe/Re
An F-35B Lightning II aircraft prepares to take off from the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp during an F-35 developmental test.

Israel is in the process of preparing the infrastructure and capabilities needed to start operating its first F-35 Adir (Heb = Great) stealth strike fighters by the end of 2017, Defense News reported. The first pair of Adirs will arrive by December 2016, and fly out of the IAF Nevatim Air Base in the Negev.

According to the IDF blog, the new squadron of 19 F-35 jets will be incorporated into the Israeli Air Force beginning in 2019. The newly engineered fighters are a step up from the F-16I, especially with the addition of new state-of-the-art stealth technology and avionics. Each F-35 unit costs around $110 million, according to the Israeli defense ministry.


Steve Over, Lockheed Martin director for F-35 International Business Development, said that even though Israel will have “plenty of capability to do light maintenance in-country,” heavy maintenance of the Adir airframes and engines will be done at Joint Program Office-managed, company-established facilities “just like we do with all our other partners.”

“When you tear an airplane down, you expose its magic,” Over said bluntly. “So that type of work must be performed in designated places.”

Perhaps betraying their reservations about what usually happens the American weapons after the Israelis lay their hands on them, Lockheed executives said Israel would be able to add specific capabilities or upgraded functions—which the Israelis love doing—as long as it did not affect the overall design or the aircraft software. As Over put it:

The Israelis have an ability to do some unique things. But anything wholesale that would impact the design or capabilities driving all the airplanes for all the countries would have to be done by consensual agreement.

The IAF is preparing to send its first group of pilots to train in Arizona next year, at the Luke Air Force Base. At the same time, the IAF will be sending dozens of maintenance professionals to train at US Air Force logistics bases at Eglin, Florida, according to Defense News.

Washington has approved 75 F-35s for export to Israel, of which the IDF has contracted for 33, hoping to be able to absorb another 17 planes by 2020, according to Defense News.

According to the IDF blog, The stealth technology allows the aircraft to fly practically unnoticed by any enemy. For many years, these systems were too expensive to be deployed on small aircraft; therefore they could only be used on larger and more expensive bombers such as the B-2 or the F-117. The newly developed F-35 allows the incorporation of these features at a low maintenance price.

The F-35 is also manufactured with improved electronic systems onboard. Sensors including various radars, infrared systems, and active electronic warfare systems are all mounted on the aircraft during production. They serve as an integral part of the plane and not as “add-ons” which is common in other aircraft.

With these improvements, the IAF pilots will receive a more precise and complete picture of the battlefield in real-time. It will allow them to better position themselves and give them the advantage to come out on top of every mission they must face.


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  1. Israel bought these planes with cash money, no godamn is going to tell Israel what to do with the purchased goods, the american government closed the lavy project because they knew Israel would be a tough competitor, it they had not Israel would have had a betterplane than lockheed.

  2. The isrealis are proficient at reverse engineering they practically overhauled the f16 and f 15s with domestic avionics and sensors. Undoutedly such upgrades would make the f 35 comparatively adept than the exported version to other countries.

  3. The F-35 is the latest generation plane that the US will be parting with. It is not the best, but is generally more advanced than anything else out there, except the F-22. The difference is that the F-16 has a shorter range, however, there are a lot more of them.
    In the end of WWII, Germany had eveloped the M-262, the first jet powered fighter. It was an advance that came too late to save their airforce. Though they were better planes, they were inferior in numbers. It took it's toll on allied planes, but they were outnumbered. This is analogus to the F-16, which is the backbone of many country's air forces.
    The big deal is Stealth and Technology to make the weapons systems more potent. Being able to stand off at a distance, identify your target, and hit it before they know you were there is the ideal.
    Israel will implement it's own avionics. It will be expensive. Still, I believe the fleet of F-16's will continually upgrade, and it will not lose it's spot at the top. That won't happen till Israel goes back into building it's own plane.
    But, there are generations to come. Incorperated into the future are weapons still in developement. How far can we go with the technology we know of is unlimited. Particle beams, or rail guns. Just guessing in the dark.

  4. Is Lockheed afraid of Israeli "brainpower" being more proficient than theirs? Perhaps, Israeli engineers will solve the fuel and engine problems, this plane is experiencing. If Obama or his successor act nice, maybe Israeli will show them how it is done. Israel is paying $110 million for each plane.

  5. give Israel a problem and they solve it, without all of the crap we usually have. Their survial depends on having defensive weapons that work, they don't have time for lies and games lockheed or any of the military suppliers play. They buy a plane it is theirs to do as they please.

  6. On top of being offered an over-priced, over-weight "fighter" without the range to reach Iran, the Israelis are also being denied the means to modify them to better meet their needs.
    This is why Israel needs an independent fighter manufacturing capability. No amount of lipstick will allow this pig to reach the same combat radius as Israel's F-15I and F-16I fighters have today.

  7. Rami Chaveri The Lavi would have been a still-born dinosaur in a stealth era. The F-35 is no better. It's an unservicable non-upgradable prototype forever stuck in time. With all this 20/20 hindsight, Israel can do better, much better. And don't waste precious time waiting for the 19 to actually arrive. Thank Lockheed for their innovative ideas and genius, but we are on our own. I shan't say more at this time. And btw, Lockheed servicing these things is a double-edged sword as they will have access to Israeli innovations as part of the service process. Israel will find itself fighting against its own innovations, whatever minimal ones that can be implemented.

  8. Phil, the Lavi had the empty weight of a Block 10 F-16A and the range of a Block 52+ F-16I. The kind of range and payload that the IDF needed, without giving up agility like the F-35 does.
    I agree that Israel needs an Israeli developed stealth fighter. But the experience base to build such an airplane was largely lost when the Lavi was cancelled. It will be an uphill struggle to rebuild it.

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