July 26, the Israeli variant of the F-35 aircraft was tested for the first time in the southern United States. The flight test of the “Adir” represents the latest stage in the transfer process of the aircraft to Israel. The fifth-generation fighter jet is due to undergo further trial flights to test its capabilities in the coming months. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is set to receive 33 F-35 jets and is considering the option to order 17 more. Last month, U.S. and Israeli leaders met in Fort Worth, Texas, to celebrate the rollout of the first Israeli F-35 aircraft. “The plane will allow Israel to defend itself from developing threats in the region. It is another important milestone in our strategic cooperation [with the United States],” said Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman at the ceremony.
United States and Israel concluded a five-day missile defense war game on June 22 simulating coordinated attacks on the Israeli home front. According to a joint statement from the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and Israeli Missile Defense Organization, the war game “demonstrated the United States’ commitment for the protection of Israel as well as the interoperability between the United States and Israeli integrated defense system architecture.” The computerized tests, known as Integrated Ground Test-2016 (IGT-16), evaluated the technical ability of U.S. missile defense forces to interoperate with Israel in the event of a sustained missile barrage. The exercises marked the first major computerized drills between the two nations since 2008 and involved both engineers and program developers. Preliminary data demonstrated that U.S. and Israeli missile defense forces successfully received a
full situational picture based on shared information during the tests.
July 12, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) delivered its 10th F-35 wing set to Lockheed Martin. The two defense companies held a ceremony at the Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom to mark the delivery of the wings. IAI is anticipated to produce 811 F-35 wing pairs by 2034, with a potential value of over $2 billion. “Israel Aerospace Industries is a key supplier to the F-35 supply chain—delivering a quality product, on schedule and on cost—helping the F-35 enterprise deliver affordable security capabilities to all of our customers. Lockheed Martin greatly values our long-standing relationship with IAI and we look forward to their continued performance on this program,” said Orlando Carvalho, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Executive Vice President.
the release of a recent strategic assessment by the Israeli Air Force (IAF), Israel is increasingly considering the acquisition of the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) B-model of the F-35 fighter jet. The aircraft would complement Israel’s ordered fleet of F-35As, the first of which is expected to be delivered in December 2016. The strategic assessment found that growing rocket and missile threats in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon could imperil the IAF’s ability to operate air bases during a conflagration. While the IAF has formed special units to perform rapid repairs on damaged runways, Israeli sources deem the units insufficient to overcome the operational challenges that the F-35B could help address.
July 6, the U.S. State Department approved a potential $300 million foreign military sale of excess SH-60F Sea-Hawk Helicopter equipment and support to Israel. The equipment includes engines, radar components, fuel tanks and spare parts. In order to protect its offshore gas infrastructure, Israel intends to equip four new Navy frigates with the Sea-Hawk helicopters. U.S.-based Science and Engineering Services and General Electric will serve as the principal contractors. According to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency press release, “This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a strategic regional partner, which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.”
On July 17, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) successfully conducted a refueling test flight of one of its new Lockheed Martin-produced C-130J transport aircraft. For the first time, the IAF tested the plane’s operational ability using a Boeing 707 aerial tanker. In recent months, the IAF has performed numerous aerial refueling tests that will enable Israel to carry out longer-range air operations. Israel is expecting additional deliveries of C-130J aircraft in 2017.