Israel’s air force (IAF) is now urging the United States to give it greater access to the core avionics of the F-35 in an effort to eventually install new Israeli-developed systems onto the stealth fighter, according to Breaking Defense.
The site was able to confirm the details with Brig. Gen. Nir Barkan, who is the Israeli air force chief of the air staff and the number two officer for the IAF.
“The effort is to find the right balance between the U.S. restrictions and the Israeli operational demands,” he noted.
Although Barkan did not get into specific details regarding which Israeli-made technologies he would like to see added to the aircraft, “sources here say they include a new electronic warfare system, a new communication system that will allow a two-way flow of real time data, and the addition of highly-classified weapon systems to be loaded into the weapons bay when operating stealthily,” the site writes.
“Israel has a program of record for fifty of the conventional take-off and landing F-35A models. Israeli officials have started that its F-35 fleet has been used in different combat operations in ‘close and far away arenas,’ and the country is known for being more willing to use the jets in combat situations than some other F-35 operators,” it continues.
There’s also been increased talk about Israel seeking a new tranche of advanced F-15s.
“We build our aerial force according to a future scenario, based on different assumptions. We try to foresee our operational needs in five to ten years ahead, in such a way that it will answer the potential needs in different fighting arenas. Saying that, we understand that an aerial platform purchased now may be in service in the next forty to fifty years,” Barkan asserted.
“But things may change, and therefore when we select a platform we look at its capability to operate with other aerial platforms. We think that the mix of F-35 and advanced F-15 will answer our future requirements and will enable us to trim the capabilities of these two aircraft to changing challenges,” he added.
In response to Barkan’s comments, Brandi Schiff, a spokesperson for the F-35 joint program office, said that “the F-35 JPO will continue to meet all of Israeli sovereign requirements within the United States Government’s security and release policy, and will strive to balance U.S. restrictions with Israel’s requests.”
Growing Iran Threat
During the interview, Barkan also took the time to raise concerns regarding Iran’s ever-growing ballistic missile program.
“Recent joint ballistic missiles defense exercises of the U.S. and Israeli air forces may, under certain circumstances, become an operational reality part of the regional plan to defend Israel from ballistic threats,” he said.
“The U.S. and Israel are further strengthening their ballistic missile defense capability,” he added.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.