The US Government is offering Israel 25 F-35As and an option for 50 F-35A or B Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) capable of deploying to unprepared airfields, relieving Israel's Air Force dependency on main operating bases, vulnerable to enemy missile attacks.
The unprecedented $15.2 billion aircraft sale package will extend deliveries of aircraft over a period of about 15 years. The entire sale will be financed through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.
Israel's ambitions, to integrate indigenous weaponry like the Rafael Python 5 air-to-air missile, the Spice family of precision-guided weapons, or installing Israeli sensors, like the IAI/Elta AESA advanced radar warning and active jamming system, could pose serious problems, as F-35 has a highly integrated sensor suite, which is very hard to replace.
As of now, the Israeli version of the F-35 will be configured with the standard JSF systems, but could perhaps be enhanced in the future with indigenous capabilities. The aircraft will be delivered with a standard suite of Electronic Warfare (EW) Systems including unique infrared flares; Command, Control, Communication, Computers and Intelligence/ Communication, Navigational and Identification (C4I/CNI). To ensure its operational independence, Israel will receive unique systems complying with sovereign requirements, software reprogramming center and Hardware/Software In-the-Loop Laboratory to simulate how indigenous developments are integrated into the system.
Photo: Lockheed Martin