Israel’s First F-35 Ceremonially Rolled Out

 - June 22, 2016, 4:29 PM
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Israel’s first F-35 during the ceremony at Fort Worth. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

A rollout ceremony held today at Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth, Texas, plant for Israel’s first F-35I Lightning II was attended by many dignitaries from that country, and from the program. But nothing was said about any specific Israeli content on the “Adir,” which is Hebrew for "mighty one." When Israel first opted for the stealth jet in 2010, that was a matter of controversy.

However, last April Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) said that it was producing a C4I system specific to the F-35I. It would use generic communications infrastructure based on the latest software-defined radios, and be fully embedded into the aircraft’s integrated avionics system. It would provide “advanced processing capabilities with relative independence of the aircraft manufacturer,” IAI continued. It was part of a wider drive to help the Israeli Air Force (IAF) “rapidly field networked applications that interface with core services over proprietary protocols,” the company added.

The system will effectively enable the Israeli Air Force (IAF) to self-integrate indigenous weapons systems such as the Derby and Python AAMs; Spice precision-guided bombs; and Litening targeting pod. Israel has also negotiated exemption from centralized F-35 MRO arrangements specified by the Joint Program Office (JPO), according to remarks reported last April of IAF chief of staff Bg. Gen. Tal Kelman.

According to Lockheed Martin (LM) chairman, president and CEO Marillyn Hewson, Israel will be “the first country outside the U.S. to fully operate” the stealth fighter when it takes delivery of its first jet in December. The Israeli air force is due to receive 33 F-35 conventional takeoff and landing versions. They will be based at Nevatim airbase in the Negev desert.

Orlando Carvalho, executive v-p of LM Aeronautics, said that the total number of outer wing sets for the F-35 to be produced by IAI’s Lahav Division will exceed 800. Elbit Systems subsidiary Cyclone is producing some composite components for the center fuselage. And Elbit’s U.S. subsidiary EFW is in a joint venture with Rockwell Collins that is producing the helmet-mounted display for all F-35 pilots.