Anticipating the arrival in Israel this year of the new F-35 stealth fighter jet, IAF pilots are training in the US, while production has entered an advanced stage.
The production of the unique Israeli version of the F-35I (“Adir”) stealth fighter went into an advanced stage last week, as the first fuselage in construction was revealed in a formal ceremony. Simultaneously, Israeli pilots of the “Adir” squadron establishment team took off for the simulator in Florida, an important milestone in the acquisition process.
So far, the Defense Ministry has purchased 33 “type A” F-35’s with possible plans to purchase another 17.
The advanced stage of production, includes the assembling of the electronic systems, many produced in Israel, and the powerful engine in the “Adir”.
The leaders of the Israeli Ministry of Defense (MOD) mission to the United States and “Lockheed Martin” noted during the ceremony in Texas that this new stage was the beginning of the advanced phase of the production of Israel’s first F-35, in preparation for the completion of its manufacturing and its launch this June.
At the height of the ceremony, the Director of the Israeli MOD Mission to the US Aharon Marmarosh, signed the fuselage of the first jet in the name of Israel and wrote in Hebrew: “Onward and Upward. Good Luck with your mission”.
These steps are a significant milestone on the jet’s journey to Israel and it is scheduled to land in the Nevatim Airbase about a year from now.
“This is a different generation of aircraft and ability, it will do better than any other aircraft we have in our fleet at the moment”, said Israeli Air Force (IAF) Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel in an interview for the IAF Magazine after he visited the aircraft’s advanced simulator.
The IAF pilots aim to attain the new skills required to fly the advanced war plane.
“Flying in the simulator consists of a very initial acquaintance with its abilities,” explains Major Ehud, the “Adir” project officer. What the team learns in the US will have great influence on the squadron’s future and development. He added.
Starting in mid-2016, the “Adir” Squadron’s aircrews will begin their training for flight on the F-35 which includes further trips to the simulator in Florida and ground training exercises in Israel.
Israel Key Partner in Jet Production
Today, throughout the world there are only three factories, in Israel, Italy and the US, which manufacture F-35 wings for all of the jets manufactured by “Lockheed Martin”. As a part of the F-35 program, “Lockheed Martin” maintains many cooperative efforts with Israeli companies, which manufacture different parts for the stealth fighters, with the prominent company among them being Israel Aeronautical Industries (IAI), which in one of its factories has a production line for wings worth about 2.5 Billion USD and is obligated to over 800 pairs of wings for “Lockheed Martin.”[subscribe boxed form]