Lockheed Martin has been contracted to deliver Israeli-specific upgrades for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) as part of a wider Block 3F+ software package.
The USD147.96 million contract modification was announced by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on 2 February, and is set to run through to December 2021.
“The contract provides for the procurement of Israel-unique weapons certification, modification kits, and electronic warfare analysis in support of the F-35 Israel system design and development (SDD) to provide [Block] 3F+ fleet capability for the government of Israel under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme,” the DoD notification said.
While the contract does not note the specific nature of the Israeli-unique systems to be delivered for the F-35 (named Adir in national service), according to Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft: In Development and Production the aircraft will feature a plug-and-play feature added to the main computer that facilitates use of Israeli-designed electronic equipment and weaponry. This will permit Israel to employ its own external jamming pod and also allow internal carriage of indigenous air-to-air missiles and guided munitions.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) declared the F-35 Adir to be operationally ready in December 2017 (the first international operator to do so), a milestone that was marked by the arrival in-country of the ninth aircraft out of a currently planned 50 (although this number could rise to between 75 and 100). In IAF service, the F-35 is flown by 140 Squadron ‘Golden Eagles’ from Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel’s Negev Desert. A second squadron expected to be stood up at the same location and a third likely to be located elsewhere as deliveries continue.
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