The Israeli Air Force (IAF) will be forever revolutionized in the coming months.
Global defense and advanced technologies manufacturer Lockheed Martin plans to unveil the first of the fifth-generation fighter jets in the F-35 Lightning II series, one of the world’s most advanced stealth fighter jets, on Wednesday. The Israeli defense establishment has said the new plane is a true game changer for the Jewish state as it will make Israel unique in all aerial capabilities against its enemies, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Newly appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman as well as several top IAF officers will attend Lockheed Martin’s official ceremony during which the upgraded warplane will at last be revealed. The ceremony will take place at Lockheed Martin’s production facilities in Fort Worth, Texas.
Among the many features of the F-35 Lightning II are advanced sensors, guided weapons, and the ability to fuse data absorbed from various sources which will allow the pilot to focus on battle tactics rather than devoting time running the aircraft itself, explained The Jerusalem Post.
Israel will be the first non-US country to receive the new planes, divulged Keith O. Tucker, director of the Strategic Studies Group at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. The first two jets will make their Israeli debut this December.
Tucker added that the tremendous potential of the fifth-general warplane will be quite noticeable during military operations such as a ground offensive and the jet will take combat to new heights, no pun intended.
The Director also highlighted a very unique aspect now made available by Lockheed Martin’s latest invention: cyber attacks can now be carried out from the air. The plane is capable of launching cyber attacks and cyber defenses simultaneously whilst amid combat, Tucker said.
Implementing the most critical tactic necessary to a warplane, the ultimate weapon posed by the fifth-generation aircraft is its precision, enabling the IAF to see and strike before its enemies even have a chance to realize they are facing Israeli attack.
Updated networking applications aboard the F-35 mean that the jet can also share battlefield data and real-time intelligence with other air-based platforms and ground forces.
Quite optimistic over the astounding potential the brand new F-35’s hold for Israeli air combat capabilities, defense officials have said that these jets will drastically improve the IAF’s ability to confront all enemy threats, especially those posed by Hezbollah.
A terrorist group based in Lebanon, the Hezbollah threat that Israel faces is quite serious. The Jerusalem Post claimed that Hezbollah boasts advanced radar-based surface-to-air (SAM) missile batteries as well as an arsenal of at least 120,000 offensive rockets and missiles, which it has warned Israel it will not hesitate to use should the group find it necessary.
Luckily for Israel, the F-35 can detect the SAM batteries, due to their stealth radar signature, and it can do so even long-range.
At Thursday’s Herzliya Conference, IAF chief Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel stated that the F-35 is exactly what the air force needs to accomplish its goals of significantly upgrading its method of gather enemy intelligence and the ability to carry out mass, precision-guided strikes. The IAF, he explained, plans to reach a stage where it has sensors “creating intelligence 24/7.” The Herzliya Conference is an annual gathering of academics who come together to discuss and debate the “most pressing issues on the national and international agendas,” according to their website.
“I’m talking about a big network of planes, helicopters and drones… The direction we are moving toward is to increase the lethality in a significant way,” Eshel said.
Excitedly sharing his optimism over the F-35, Eshel explained “We in the IAF call it [the F-35] the fifth generation. The whole of the IAF is going to adapt itself to this vehicle, which will take us up to another level.”
Lockheed Martin’s decision to roll out the new jet comes at a very apropos time as Israel gears up to commemorate 10 years since the Second Lebanon War against Hezbollah. It was during that war that IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was captured by Hamas. It wasn’t until 2011 that he was finally released in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.