Israel Aerospace Industries has signed a contract with Lockheed Martin to produce wings for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, with the company to begin delivering equipment in 2015.
"Both companies recently began assembling an F-35 wing production line, with IAI investing in the required advanced systems and technologies," the Israeli company said on 23 April. It says the contract has an expected duration of 10 to 15 years, and a potential value of up to $2.5 billion.
"This agreement represents an important milestone for IAI and ensures its involvement in the world's most advanced fighter aircraft," says
IAI chief executive Joseph Weiss. The pact forms part of an offset agreement that is part of the deal Israel signed to purchase 20 F-35s for its air force.
Sources in Israel say a "new era" in defence relations between the USA and Israel may result in more Israeli-developed systems being integrated with the Israeli air force's F-35s. The Pentagon in 2012 reached an agreement with Lockheed for a $450 million programme to enhance the electronic warfare (EW) equipment installed on its conventional take-off and landing aircraft. The enhancement will probably be achieved by allowing Israeli-made systems to interface with the standard EW system of the F-35.
Israel had initially wanted to also equip its aircraft with an Israeli-made radar, but dropped the proposal after Washington refused to approve any change.