On June 22, U.S. and Israeli leaders met in Fort Worth, Texas to celebrate the rollout
of the first Israeli F-35 aircraft. The Israel Air Force (IAF) is set to receive 33 F-35A jets and is considering the option to order 17 more. The first aircraft will arrive in Israel on Dec. 12. Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman attended the rollout ceremony and delivered remarks after meeting with his American counterpart Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in Washington, D.C. During their meeting, Secretary Carter and Minister Lieberman reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-Israel defense relationship and areas of mutual defense cooperation.
U.S. Department of Defense and the Israeli Ministry of Defense announced an agreement on June 21 to enhance collaboration on counter-tunneling research and development. The two allies will work together on a portfolio of about a dozen Pentagon projects, including an effort to identify a tunnel test site with terrains and geologies of mutual interest. The bilateral agreement represents the implementation of a multi-year congressional initiative to fund cooperative anti-tunneling programs with Israel. Last year, Congress appropriated $40 million to develop a new, joint U.S.-Israel anti-tunneling defense program to locate, map and destroy terrorist tunnel networks.
pilots are heading next month to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, to start training for the arrival of the first Israeli F-35 jets. The pilots will be participating in simulator and ground-based training on the new stealth fighter. “We have 12 pilots selected, and by 2018, we’ll have selected another 10 to 15 pilots,” the IAF’s F-35 project manager stated. “Once they’ve done their ground-based training in the U.S., they’ll come back here and fly for a few months before they are operationally certified.” The IAF is also working with Lockheed Martin and F-35 program officials to build a domestic logistics center to perform maintenance, overhaul and repair on the fighter aircraft. New buildings at the Nevatim Air Base in Israel’s Negev Desert are under construction to house the F-35 aircraft.
United States Army has chosen Israel Military Industries (IMI) as the supplier for the new Iron Fist active protection system, designed to defend light to medium-weight armored personnel carriers (APC). According to an official IMI statement, the U.S. Army selected the Israeli system as part of its “Modular Active Protection Systems” and will install it on APC rooftops. “We believe that the American army will begin acquisition and supply within two years,” stated IMI Corporate Vice President of Marketing Avinoam Zafir, who credited Iron Fist’s “ability to defend against rockets, RPGs, anti-tank missiles from the entire spectrum, and even against recoilless gun munitions.” The system can jam missiles with advanced guidance systems and destroy unsophisticated rocket propelled grenades (RPG) by emitting shockwaves. The Iron Fist’s computer system decides within a “split second” when to
fire an interceptor or jam a threat, while allowing the personnel within the APC to see surrounding threats.
June 1, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) successfully tested the Namer, a joint U.S.-Israel heavy troop carrier, against anti-tank missiles in the Golan Heights. Developed by Israeli defense company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the Namer vehicle is supported by significant production work in the United States. U.S.-based company General Dynamic Land Systems is currently under contract to produce major components and kits for the vehicle. Earlier this year, Israel’s Ministry of Defense began serial installation of the Trophy Active Protection System (APS) on the engineering variant of the combat vehicle. Trophy is designed to destroy threats in mid-flight and has been credited with saving countless lives since its initial deployment in 2011. C4 Advanced Tactical Land Systems, Rafael’s U.S.-based subsidiary, performs 50 percent of the work supporting the APS system. “About half of the
[Trophy] production for the IDF is done in the U.S.,” said Yizhar Sahar, director of marketing and business development for Rafael’s Land Maneuver Systems Directorate. “We are equipped to expand the work in support of the North American market when the time comes.”
On June 22, soldiers from the U.S. National Guard and the Israel Defense Forces conducted
a joint search and rescue exercise in central Israel. Seventy-eight American soldiers from search and rescue units and members of the National Israeli Search and Rescue unit participated in the drill. The two militaries practiced extraction from collapsed buildings based on an earthquake scenario and worked to enhance interoperability between the services.