F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
Israel’s F-35, called Adir – which means “Mighty One”, "Majestic" or "Noble" in Hebrew – will be a significant addition to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge in the Middle East region, with its advanced capability to defeat emerging threats, including advanced missiles and heavily-defended airspace. The F-35 combines advanced low observable stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment support.
The first pair of "Adir" F-35I multirole stealth fighters was positioned in the first "Adir" Squadron, the "Golden Eagle" Squadron from Nevatim AFB. It was decided that the F-35 maintenance program will operate in a global format, meaning that global repair hubs will be established across the world to which malfunctioning aircraft and parts in need of repair will be sent. Nevertheless, the IAF decided that the "Adir" F-35I will not leave Israel for the purpose of maintenance.
On 26 September 2008, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Israel of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $15.2 billion. This notice of a potential sale was required by law; it did not mean that the sale had been concluded.
The Government of Israel requested a possible sale of an initial 25 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft with an option to purchase at a later date an additional 50 F-35 CTOL or Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft. By October 2014 Israel was poised to order an additional 25 F-35 stealth fighter jets for delivery beginning in 2019. Israel already purchased 19 of the planes from Lockheed Martin for $2.75 billion, with the first jets scheduled for delivery as early as 2016.
All aircraft will be configured with either the Pratt and Whitney F-135 engines or General Electric-Rolls Royce F-136 engines. Other aircraft equipment includes: Electronic Warfare Systems; Command, Control, Communication, Computers and Intelligence/ Communication, Navigational and Identification (C4I/CNI); Autonomic Logistics Global Support System (ALGS); Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS); Flight Mission Trainer; Weapons Employment Capability, and other Subsystems, Features, and Capabilities; F-35 unique infrared flares; unique systems or sovereign requirements; reprogramming center, Hardware/Software In-the-Loop Laboratory Capability; External Fuel Tanks; and F-35 Performance Based Logistics.
Also includes: software development/ integration, flight test instrumentation, aircraft ferry and tanker support, support equipment, tools and test equipment, spares and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documents, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is $15.2 billion.
Israel's strategic position makes it vital to the United States' interests throughout the Middle East. US policy has been to promote Middle East peace, support Israeli commitment to peace with other regional Arab countries, enhance regional stability, and promote Israeli readiness and self-sufficiency. It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives.
Israel needs these aircraft to augment its present operational inventory and to enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defense capability. Israel will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces. The proposed sale will not affect the basic military balance in the region.
Implementation of this proposed sale will require multiple trips to Israel involving U.S. Government and contractor representatives for technical reviews/support, program management, and training over a period of 15 years. U.S. contractor representatives will be required in Israel to conduct Contractor Engineering Technical Services (CETS) and Autonomic Logistics and Global Support (ALGS) for after-aircraft delivery.
The prime contractors will be: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Fort Worth, Texas; Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Connecticut; General Electric/Fighter Engine Team, Cincinnati, Ohio. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.
US Vice President Joe Biden announced 24 April 2015 that the US government will provide F-35 fighter jets to Israel in 2016 to sustain the country's strategic advantage over its rivals in the Middle East. Biden said during a speech celebrating Israeli independence: “Next year we will deliver to Israel the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter… making Israel the only country in the Middle East with a fifth-generation aircraft,” Biden said on Thursday. No US president has done more to support Israel than US President Barack Obama, Biden said, evidenced by the fact the Obama administration had provided Israel with $20 billion in military assistance.
In remarks at the Pentagon 28 October 2015, Defense Secretary Ash Carter noted the Joint Strike Fighter is the visible manifestation of U.S. support for Israel. The Israeli air force will start receiving the aircraft next year and will be the only force in the region to be armed with a fifth-generation fighter.
On 22 June 2016 Israeli and US government leaders joined Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) to celebrate the rollout of the first Israeli Air Force F-35A Lightning II, marking a major production milestone for the future of Israel’s national defense. “Israel is proud to be the first country in the area to receive and operate it,” said Avigdor Liberman, Israel’s Minister of Defense. “The F-35 is the best aircraft in the world and the choice of all our military leadership at its highest level. It is clear and obvious to us and to the entire region that the new F-35, the Adir, will create real deterrence and enhance our capabilities for a long time.”
Eight-hundred sets of wings for the F-35 Lightning II stealth plane Lockheed Martin is building will be produced from none other than IAI in Israel and Israel's contribution to the F-35 project is estimated to be worth $4 billion.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) plans to buy 75 US-manufactured fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets to increase its capabilities in the Middle East, IAF Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Tal Kalman said 22 June 2016. Kalman along with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman participated in a rollout celebration of F-35 designed for the IAF. "We want to reach 75 jets… 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," Kalman said, as quoted by the IAF. Previous agreements between the United States and Israel included the purchase of 33 F-35s, however Israel's Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot approved recommendation to increase the number of F-35s to 50.
On 27 November 2016 the Israeli government approved a procurement of 17 additional US-manufactured fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets in order to bring the total number of such aircraft in Israeli Air Force (IAF) service to 50. "The Ministerial Committee on National Security Affairs headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has unanimously decided to acquire 17 F-35 fighter jets. Thus, the total number of such machines, which will be delivered to the Israeli Air Force, will amount to 50," the press service said. Israel expected to receive the first two F-35 fighter jets in December 2016, becoming the first aircraft of such type in the Middle East.
In 2019 Lockheed Martin is trying to promote a huge deal for the sale of 50 more F-35s to the Israeli Air Force. This involved equipping more fighter jets, in addition to the 50 aircraft of this type that Israel has already ordered from. Lockheed Martin's proposal was recently put on the table by senior defense and Air Force officials. This is while Israel was preparing a decision whether to purchase another squadron of F-35s or an F-15 IA squadron of the competing company Boeing, with each squadron consisting of 25 aircraft.
The Israeli Air Force strives to equip one fighter squadron every five years, due to the obsolescence of the aircraft used by it and the need to maintain the IDF's technological superiority in the Middle East. According to those sources, Lockheed's proposal Martin for the sale of two F-35 squadrons to Israel talks about their supply over a period of about a decade, so that if it is accepted, the Air Force will have about 100 such aircraft by 2030. Two new F-35 “Adir” fighter jets landed at Nevatim Airbase on 16 July 2019, raising the number of advanced stealth aircraft in Israel’s arsenal to 16. Initially the IAF planned to create two Israel Air Force F-35 squadrons with 25 aircraft each.
The Political and Security Cabinet on 07 February 2021 approved the dollar outline of the IDF's multi-year plan, including the recycling of the loan taken to purchase the F35 Vapor planes. The first planes were purchased in the middle of the decade, at a cost of $ 2.4 billion, and even then the payment was deferred for ten years through a loan from the City Bank of the US guaranteed by the government. Now the payment has been postponed again with another interim loan that will cost about $ 200 million for eight years.
The chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu, MK Avigdor Lieberman, submitted a bill 23 September 2020 aimed at preventing a situation such as the one surrounding the peace agreement with the United Arab Emirates, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed to hide from Israeli officials the Israeli agreement that the US Will sell advanced weapons, including elusive F-35s, to Abu Dhabi. An explanation of the bill submitted by Lieberman reads: "The normalization agreement between the State of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, along with being welcomed, exposed a serious buyer, as the prime minister pledged to remove Israel's opposition to selling advanced weapons to the UAE, including F-35s and UAVs." Unmanned aerial vehicles), to be supplied by the United States. This," it was further alleged, "without informing the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Chief of Staff and the head of the IDF's Intelligence Division. "So any sale of American weapons to another country in the Middle East is conditional on it not harming Israel's qualitative military advantage," it read. The bill further states that since these are issues that have implications for the security of the state and its citizens, "it is inconceivable that the prime minister would have exclusive authority in decision-making, without consulting, informing and holding discussions with all relevant security officials.
Former security chief Yadlin attacked Netanyahu, after Gantz announced that he was barred from negotiating the sale of the evacuees - two months after Yedioth Ahronoth was exposed. The head of the Institute for National Security Studies, who previously served as head of the Armed Forces, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, said last night that "the serious issue is not the advanced weapon for a distant, moderate country and our camp with Iran - but, as a repeat pattern, false denials by the prime minister. The defense establishment estimates: greater compensation could have been obtained if the prime minister did not hide. Sudan is not expected to ask for advanced weapons, but if agreements are signed with them, Qatar and Saudi Arabia may demand it - and receive it.
Defense Minister Bnei Gantz accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of concealing peace agreements with Bahrain and the UAE. This did not surprise the IDF, which is excluded from the important change that has security implications for Israel. Security, the concealment harmed what the IDF could have achieved from the US if negotiations had begun in the early stages of concluding the agreement.
Despite numerous denials from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Bnei Gantz and Netanyahu gave the US Congress their consent to the F35 sale deal to the UAE. This was announced 23 October 2020 by Netanyahu and Ganz in a joint statement. Defense Minister Ganz returned to Israel after a particularly short trip to Washington, during which he signed a declaration to strengthen relations between the two countries. The Prime Minister's Office continues to argue that the new understandings, approving the sale of the F35 to the UAE, are not part of the peace agreement with the UAE and that the dialogue with the Americans regarding this sale began only a month ago at Ganz's first visit to Washington. However, this is not in line with President Trump's statements that he had already said in August that the sale of the F35 was part of the agreements. Netanyahu added that "after a close examination by the Defense Ministry, it was decided that Israel has no objection to the supply of certain weapons systems to the United Arab Emirates, as enshrined in an agreement with the United States that upgrades Israel's military advantage and guarantees its military superiority in the Middle East."
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|