With Israel looking to maintain its aerial superiority and technological advantage in the region, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, the most advanced fighter jet in the world today, is the perfect plane to fortify their defences and augment their forces. The F-35 will give the Israeli Air Force better capabilities, both near and far, to help strengthen its national security. Syria, South Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and the Islamic State are a constant threat to Israel’s security and they are facing increasingly crowded skies in the neighborhood.
Israel’s Security Cabinet are asking tough questions about plans to purchase F-35 stealth fighter jets from the United States, although, it seems the purchase is vital to maintaining Israel’s military dominance in the Middle East, a task which is getting more difficult as the years go by.
Two squadrons have already been purchased, and Israel has the option of acquiring 17 more. If all goes to plan, the total number of stealth fighters in the Israeli Air Force will reach 50. Various sources have been trying to sway the Israeli decision makers with presentations, statistics and analysis that show the stealth fighter performance is below par for an aircraft that costs over $100 million. These sources also claim that there are deficiencies with the jets range capabilities, stealth capacity and diminished load for weapons and armament. The biggest shortcoming of all, however, is due to the US reluctance to share the jet’s source code, to divulge details of its impenetrable “brain” or to control its operating system.
Israel is, however, confident that the F-35’s performance is more than adequate,as top pilots and experts have examined and tested the F-35 and were satisfied with the results. On procurement of the planes, Israel has no intention of sending it on maintenance to the US or Turkey, where its engines are manufactured. It should also be noted that Israel plans to install their own weapons and arms on the fighter jet and the Americans have agreed to supply a “test jet” to allow them to install special equipment and run practice exercises to test all the changes and additions they wish to incorporate on the stealth fighter.
The Gulf States are buying vast amount of weapons, with Egypt purchasing two MiG squadrons, a Rafale squadron and a huge number of Russian anti aircraft missiles. The Saudis have bought 154 F-15s and as others up their strategic positions with the most cutting edge technological upgrades in the region, Israel must be ready for any possible scenario and every radical strategic shift. The F-35 fits in complete alignment with this long term plan of action, even though Israel is not in a state of war with any of these countries.
The $2.8 billion dollar deal is a step in the right direction especially with the Syrian, Lebanese, Turkish, American, Russian, Saudi, British, French, Jordanian and international coalition forces making their presence felt in the Middle East. This deal marks a new beginning for tactical aviation for Israel, and Lockheed Martin is all set to establish a long and storied relationship with the Israeli Armed Forces. The F-35 strengthens this association between the two states, and ensures that the Israeli aerospace industry will remain strong for decades to come.