Israel to seek second F-35 squadron

Tel Aviv
Source: Flightglobal.com
This story is sourced from Flightglobal.com

The "new situation" between the USA and Iran may result in some immediate procurement decisions by Israel, including the purchase of additional Lockheed Martin F-35s.

Israel is worried about a so-called "smiles campaign" recently initiated by Tehran, which according to Israeli sources has all but removed the option of any future US military action in response to Iran's nuclear programme.

According to Israeli sources, the nation will follow an initial deal for 19 conventional take-off and landing F-35As with a request for at least another 20 of the stealthy combat aircraft, in a move which would give it sufficient volume to equip two squadrons. They add that they believe the US administration will take some steps to facilitate the additional procurement.

In addition to increasing its planned F-35 acquisition, Israel is expected to gain the ability to integrate more nationally-developed systems with the Lockheed type. Following Israeli pressure over several years, Washington agreed to allow its air force to enhance the electronic warfare (EW) system capabilities of its F-35s, which are due to be delivered from late 2017.

While Israel will not be able to advance an earlier plan to also make changes to the F-35's radar, sources say that an approval for a second batch of the aircraft would enable additional EW and weapon systems to again be on the table.