Arie Egozi/TEL AVIV


Israel has moved a step closer to formally joining the US-led Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme with the submission of a letter of request for access for specific information on a paid basis. At the same time Lockheed Martin has selected Kaiser Electronics and Israeli partner Elbit Systems to develop a helmet-mounted display for its JSF contender.

The Israeli Ministry of Defence has decided to join the programme during the ongoing concept demonstration (CDA) phase, but not as a full participant. Rather than pay the required $10 million to be admitted as an observer, it is offering $2 million for selected programme information. Funding will come from a combination of defence ministry, air force and defence industrial sources.

Israel has been discussing JSF participation for some time, but talks had stalled over the cost of joining. Under the terms being negotiated, a new fifth tier type of player will be created. "They will not be a participant or even listed, they simply want to buy information," says the JSF programme office. An agreement on the data to be supplied and the cost has still to be reached and final negotiations are continuing.

Singapore and Turkey recently signed up to become fourth level players under which they are entitled to receive generic JSF information, but will play no industrial role in the programme. Canada and Italy are third level observers, while Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway are collectively second tier associate partners. The UK is the only collaborative partner. Like many other JSF nations, Israel views the conventional take-off variant as a potential replacement for the Lockheed Martin F-16 from around 2008.

Meanwhile, Vision Systems International (VSI) is to supply its helmet-mounted display system to Lockheed Martin for its JSF proposal. VSI is a joint venture between Elbit and Kaiser of the USA. Lockheed Martin says the selection was made on the basis of the best supplier rather than as a JSF industrial partner.

Source: Flight International