“The F-35 is the fighter plane of the future that will allow Israel to maintain its aerial superiority and its technological advantage in the region… The F-35 will give the IAF better capabilities, both near and far, to help strengthen Israel’s national security.”
– Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak
On December 12th, the Israeli Air Force will take delivery of its first pair of Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, which will then be operated from the Nevatim Airbase, near Beershba, in Israel’s Negev Desert. The Israeli version will be a modified “A” variant and, as customary with the IAF, will carry its own name to distinguish it from the same aircraft flown by other air forces. The “Adir” or “Mighty One” represents a significant departure for the IAF, who will, for the first time, possess a low-observable fighter/attack aircraft that can penetrate enemy air defense networks with little fear of retaliation.
Thus far, 50 aircraft have been ordered by Israel, and perhaps more will be necessary since they are replacing 326 aging F-16 fighters flown by the IAF, as well as several dozen F-15 Eagles.
Unique adaptations have been made to facilitate the integration of Adir with the IAF operational fleet. One of the most critical elements was the introduction of command, control and communications applications necessary to operate the new fighter within the IAF indigenous Command and Control environment. The development of this application has been completed at IAI’s labs and is now in production for the aircraft destined for Israel.
A first batch of 19 aircraft Israel is expected to receive will be the standard model operated by the US Air Force and other partner nations, it is expected to carry a limited weapon’s load comprising of two Boeing GBU-31s (JDAM) and two Lockheed Martin GBU-12s (Paveway laser guided bombs) or two Raytheon AMRAAM beyond visual range (BVR) air/air missiles. All will be carried internally.
Further adaptations expected to mature for the second batch will include the integration of certain ordnance types operated by the IAF, such as the Rafael Spice 1000 guided weapons. The more complex task is the integration of weapons carried in the internal weapon bay, thus maintaining full stealth capability of the aircraft. Other types can be taken as external stores, must also go through the lengthy integration process.
Hobby Master’s upcoming look at the IAF F-35A “Adir” Joint Strike Fighter (HA4410) is expected in May 2017, and we will post pictures of it just as soon as they are made available.