IAF looking for second stealth fighter squadron (JERUSALEM POST) By YAAKOV KATZ 02/21/12)
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The Israel Air Force is moving forward with plans to purchase a
second squadron of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and hopes to be able to
place the order in the coming year and after resolving the standoff
with the Treasury over the defense budget.
According to initial plans, the IAF would place the order for the
second squadron in late 2012-early 2013 and begin receiving the
planes in 2020. It is possible however that the US would attach the
new squadron to the one ordered in 2010 and expedite the delivery if
the order is placed soon.
Israel finalized the procurement of its first squadron of 20 F-35s in
a $2.75 billion deal in October, 2010. The aircraft are manufactured
by Lockheed Martin and IAF pilots are expected to begin training on
them in the US in 2016 with their planned arrival in Israel in early
IAF chief Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan, who will step down in April, was a
big proponent of the deal and overcame heavy opposition within the
defense establishment to gain the government’s approval for the 2010
His successor, current head of the IDF Planning Directorate Maj.-Gen.
Amir Eshel, was also supportive of the deal and is expected to push
for the second squadron immediately after taking up the post in a
The fifth-generation stealth F-35 is purported to be one of the most
advanced fighter jets in the world with the ability to fly undetected
in enemy territory.
Its uniqueness stems not only from its stealth capabilities but also
from its integrated sensor suite that provides pilots with
unprecedented situational awareness and enables information sharing
between the various aircraft.
The second contract would likely be for a similar number of aircraft
and could mean – depending on when the second deal is signed – that
the IAF could have 40 operational aircraft by the end of the decade.
Nehushtan recently decided that the F- 35s would be operated out of
the Nevatim air force base in the Negev.
News of the possible procurement of a second squadron comes amid
increasing speculation that Israel is preparing to launch an aerial
strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
In recent years, the IAF has invested in qualifying some of its older
model aircraft for long-range strike missions. In addition to the F-
15I and F-16I, the IAF has reportedly already qualified an additional
two F-15 squadrons for long-range missions armed with smart bombs and
conformal fuel tanks.
The IAF is also moving forward with the Barak 2020 program aimed at
extending the lifespan of its F-16 C/D models to the next decade.
The first aircraft arrived in the 1980s.
The upgrades include the installation of new systems for avionics,
mission-debriefing and flight-control system.
The aircraft will also be fitted with new central display units and
high-resolution screens aimed at increasing pilots’ situational
awareness.(© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 02/21/12)
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