Israeli Air Force plans at heart of changing landscape

Work on the next acquisition plan for the Israeli Defence Force (IDF)  will start next week, with one of the main issues being the structure of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) during the next 10 to 15 years.

As procurement plans have a long maturity time, the IDF general staff will have to make some important decisions. The task this time is complicated as the situation in the Middle East has changed and continues to evolve.

The IAF problem comes down to how it keeps its “critical mass” among the following facts – the expected late delivery of the Lockheed Martin F-35s, the changing threat scenario in the Middle East and the fact that the variety of non-stealth fighters available for the IAF in the next 10 years will be almost zero.

The problem looks even more complicated when you hear experts talk of the “small details”. They say the IAF will not have its first 20 F-35s with full software suit until at least 2018.

They also point out that the IAF has to keep a “critical mass” because of the special nature of its everyday missions that require the performance of many more missions per aircraft compared with other forces.

The experts agree the IAF is the “right size” and should not shrink under any budget or availability limitations.

The sources emphasised that the future IAF structure will also be determined according to the projected operational capabilities of future unmanned air systems currently under development.

To complicate things even more, the Israeli navy will put some high-profile procurement plans on the table and the ground forces will also supply a long shopping list.

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