Three more F-35I Adir fighters boost IAF Israeli Air Force potential


On March 24, the IAF tweeted that three new F-35I Adir fighter jets landed at Nevatim AFB and joined the lines of the IAF’s 5th-Gen division as part of the 140th and 116th Squadrons.

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One of 3 IAF F 35i arriving in Israel Twitter IAF 24 3 2022 1 Landing of one of the three additional F-35I Adirs at Nevatim AFB (Picture source: Twitter account of IAF)


Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Israeli procurement is the result of an agreement for the government of Israel to procure the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II for the Israeli Air Force as the F-35I "Adir". The first nine F-35s became operational with the Israeli Air Force in December 2017. On May 22, 2018, Israeli Air Force commander, Major General Amikam Norkin, reported that Israel had become the first country in the world to use the F-35 in combat. In November 2020, an F-35I testbed aircraft was delivered. This was the only example of a testbed F-35 delivered to an air force outside of the United States. As of 27 September 2021, the Israeli Airforce had 30 F-35s in service, including the testbed stationed at the Flight Test Center at Tel Nof Airbase, and operates three squadrons at Nevatim Airbase - the 140th, 116th and 117th. On March 24, 2022, three more F-35Is joined the IAF.


One of 3 IAF F 35i arriving in Israel Twitter IAF 24 3 2022 2 One of the three additional F-35I Adirs taxiing at Nevatim AFB (Picture source: Twitter account of IAF)


One of 3 IAF F 35i arriving in Israel Twitter IAF 24 3 2022 3 One of the three additional F-35I Adirs at Nevatim AFB (Picture source: Twitter account of IAF)


A senior Israeli air force official stated that "the aircraft will be designated F-35I, as there will be unique Israeli features installed in them." The United States initially refused to allow the integration of Israel's own electronic warfare systems into the aircraft's built-in electronic suite. However, Israel planned the introduction of a plug-and-play feature added to the main computer to allow for the use of Israeli electronics in an add-on fashion, and to fit its own external jamming pod.

The IAF dispatched two officers to the US where they discussed issues involving the integration of Israeli technology into the fighter with Pentagon and Lockheed Martin officials. In July 2011, it was reported that the U.S. had agreed to allow Israel to install its own electronic warfare systems and missiles in its F-35s in the future. In 2012, Lockheed was awarded a contract to make changes to the first Israeli F-35s to allow the installation of Israeli electronic warfare equipment produced by Elbit Systems. This equipment will use "specific apertures ... in the lower fuselage and leading-edge". Israel also plans to install its own indigenously-produced guided bombs and air-to-air missiles in the F-35's internal weapon bays. Benni Cohen compared the Israel Aerospace Industries Command and control system to an iPhone App that would run on top of the central avionics.

Israel Aerospace Industries was to manufacture the outer wings of Israel's F-35s. IAI may also play a role in the development of a proposed two-seat F-35. An IAI executive stated, "There is a known demand for two seats not only from Israel but from other air forces. Advanced aircraft are usually two seats rather than single seats." The Israeli F-35s helmet-mounted displays were also to be manufactured in Israel. This is part of the Offset agreement provided to Israel, in spite of the purchase being entirely funded by American aid.

In June 2012, Aviation Week quoted an IAF official stating that while the stealth of the F-35 in its current form was to be overcome in 5–10 years, the aircraft was planned to be in service for 30–40 years, and that is the reason that Israel insisted on the ability to make its own changes to the aircraft's electronic warfare systems.

On 9 December 2016, it was reported that the first 19 aircraft were to be delivered as standard F-35As with the remaining 31 to be fully equipped F-35Is.


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