The Israeli version of the F-35 stealth fighter is being manufactured by Lockheed Martin according to Israeli specifications. The Isreali F-35 is called Adir (Awesome). The first two Adirs will be delivered to the Israel Air Force (IAF) in December 2016. Israel has publicly announced the efforts of its air force to double the flight range of the F-35 Stealth strike fighters, the fifth generation of the air force’s planes.
An Israeli air force officer told Defense News when asked how the F-35 would maintain superiority over advanced anti-air systems, like the Russian S-300, slated for delivery to Iran. “Your options for attacking the enemy with the stealth fighters are much more numerous and practical. The things that we could do before will entail much less risk, and the things we might not have been able to do before will be rendered doable.”
Lockheed Martin is now working with Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. to adapt Israeli-made air-to-ground weaponry to the plane. At the same time, Lockheed Martin is considering Israeli ideas for (probably detachable) external fuel tanks on the plane’s wings in order to extend their range.
Israel has received an exemption from the protocol requirements of the F-35 program requiring foreign air forces to do most of the maintenance work on the planes in Lockheed Martin’s logistics centers. The Israel air force will be able to do most of the maintenance work in Israel, except for heavy maintenance, due to concern that a war could break out exactly when some the planes are outside Israel. A logistics center for maintenance of the Adir planes is now being built at the Nevatim base for this purpose. This center will have direct access to Lockheed Martin’s information system.
Israel has an option to purchase 75 more Adirs. As of now, Israel has signed contracts to buy 33 of them: 19 under a contract signed in 2010 and 14 more in a contract signed in February 2015.
Israel has recently held talks with the US over the possible purchase of F-35B short take off and vertical landing variants, which would enable the IAF to use airbases even if their runways are damaged by enemy rocket or missile fire.
Israel has ordered 33 of the fighter jets from the US at a total cost of $4.75 billion, which includes the building of infrastructure from which the aircraft can operate as well as making changes specified by the IAF. The first order of 33 will arrive from 2016 to 2021. Israel also has the option to purchase an additional 17 of the fighter jets, which it is expected to take and even increase. The F-35 is the first jet that the IAF will use which has been built in order to evade radars, and will have Israeli security systems installed.
SOURCES – JPUpdates, Ynet News