Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Israel: no compromise on national equipment demand for Joint Strike Fighter

Israel's defence ministry has made it clear that a demand to equip its air force's future fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters with Israeli-made electronic warfare systems will not be subject to any compromise.

All the nation's current strike aircraft are equipped with locally developed EW systems, and one defence source says: "This is so essential that we cannot accept any alternative." The issue was brought up again during recent talks with US officials, and presented by Israel as a "no go" item.

Although other customer air forces may be prepared to settle for the integral EW system to be supplied with the F-35, a senior Israeli source notes: "Our threats are from US - and Russian-made aircraft and systems. That calls for an EW system that can cope with these threats."

One possible way of resolving the problem could be to allow Israel to integrate some kind of nationally developed EW system as an "add-on" to the baseline system being developed through the JSF programme.

The USA is next month expected to submit to Israel its offer and final price for an initial batch of F-35s, estimated to cost $137 million each.

Israel's defence ministry will have until March 2010 to respond. It could sign a production contract by the end of next year, with deliveries expected to follow from 2016.


If F35 cannot be integrated into IDF's electronic order of battle (EOB), it would always be an odd entity awkwardly added to the overall force structure.

Americans need to realize that (unlike 30 years ago when EW was barely known in the order of battle) EW & force integration is not a matter of luxury but a matter of necessity especially for countries that have their own EOB these days.

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