Israel Air Force opens second F-35 squadron
Built by Lockheed Martin, the jets have an extremely low radar signature allowing the jet to operate undetected deep inside enemy territory as well as evade advanced missile defense systems like the S-300 and S-400 missile defense systems, which have been deployed in countries such as Syria.
With close air-support capabilities and a massive array of sensors, pilots of the stealth jet have an unparalleled access to information while in the air.
The Israel Air Force currently has 14 F-35 Adir aircraft and is expected to receive a total of 50 planes to make two full squadrons by 2024.
With a need to keep ahead of increased threats in the Middle East, the Israeli Air Force is set to decide within the coming months to place orders on several new aircraft to upgrade its ageing squadrons.
The IAF is also now considering whether to purchase an additional 25 F-35s to give the Jewish state a total of 75 stealth fighter jets.
While the F-35I has advantages such as intelligence gathering, the F-15IA’s assets closely match most missions carried out by the IAF such as dealing with enemy missile launch sites or terror targets on its northern or southern borders.
Although the F-35 is considered one of the world’s most advanced fighter jet, the stealth aircraft is limited in the weapons they are able to carry as they have to be stored in internal munition boxes in order to maintain a low radar signature.
And in parallel to the fifth-generation air crafts, the IAF needs to retain it’s qualitative military edge and modernize an essential squadron of it’s fighter fleet. Most of the IAF’s F-15s are over 30 years old with the majority acquired in the second half of the 1970s and while a more advanced squadron of the F-15, the F-15I arrived in Israel in the 1990s.
The F-15IA model that the IAF is leaning towards purchasing is one of the most advanced and cost-effective fighter planes ever to be built, with various upgrades to the earlier models such as more efficient engines and fly-by-wire avionics-which is considered the biggest change to the jet in 20 years.
Officials believe that a force mix of F-35I Adirs along with a squadron of F-15IA would allow Israel to carry out a number of complex operations, including any possible confrontation with Iran on its borders