United States to Integrate Israeli Systems into F-35 Figher Jet

(July 2012)

US-Israel Strategic Cooperation: Table of Contents | Joint Defense Programs | Anti-Terror Training

After more than three years of hesitation, the Pentagon has reached a $450 million deal with the Lockheed Martin Corporation to enhance electronic warfare equipment on the F-35 fighter jet, including the integration of Israeli-unique systems that will help make the F-35 the world's most advanced fighter plane.

The deal marks a big step forward for Israel's $2.75 billion agreement to buy 19 F-35 jets, which was signed in October 2010 and includes options for up to 75 of the radar-evading fighters.

"This agreement kicks off the Israeli program," said one of the sources, who was not authorized to speak on the record. "Now all of the agreements are in place."

The F-35 will allow for even greater collaboration in the coming years with Israel, a critical strategic ally for the United States at a time when much of the Middle East is in turmoil. The deal will also allow increased participation in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program by Israeli companies, including Elbit Systems Ltd and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, which will start building wings for the radar-evading warplane. IAI already builds wings for the F-16 fighter jet, and Elbit makes the advanced helmet used by pilots on the single-seat F-35.

In 2009, the Pentagon was opposed to the sale of the F-35's to Israel because an Israeli stipulation was the introduction of their own electronic warfare suite into the jet. The American's original argument was that the warfare system cannot be changed once the plane is past production

Source: Jerusalem Post (July 27, 2012); Reuters (July 26, 2012); Aviation Week (July 2012); Haaretz (November 25, 2009)

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