Israel insists it will undertake the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of its on-order fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 combat aircraft, going against the airframer’s strategy of creating regional sustainment centres for the Joint Strike Fighter.

"We have made it clear that the maintenance of the aircraft including depot-level [work] will be done in our bases," a senior Israeli air force officer tells Flightglobal.

Even subsystems will only be sent to other countries if "there is a technical reason", he adds.

Lockheed Martin plans to create regional maintenance facilities for the stealthy aircraft, with the European centre sited at Cameri in Italy.

However, Israel has repeatedly insisted that it will not send its fleet outside the country for MRO work.

Tel Aviv’s first of as many as 50 F-35s are due to arrive at Nevatim air base in December 2016.