Israel's defence ministry has made it clear that a demand to equip its air force's future fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters with Israeli-made electronic warfare systems will not be subject to any compromise.

All the nation's current strike aircraft are equipped with locally developed EW systems, and one defence source says: "This is so essential that we cannot accept any alternative." The issue was brought up again during recent talks with US officials, and presented by Israel as a "no go" item.

Although other customer air forces may be prepared to settle for the integral EW system to be supplied with the F-35, a senior Israeli source notes: "Our threats are from US - and Russian-made aircraft and systems. That calls for an EW system that can cope with these threats."

F-35 JSF
 © Lockheed Martin

One possible way of resolving the problem could be to allow Israel to integrate some kind of nationally developed EW system as an "add-on" to the baseline system being developed through the JSF programme.

The USA is next month expected to submit to Israel its offer and final price for an initial batch of F-35s, estimated to cost $137 million each.

Israel's defence ministry will have until March 2010 to respond. It could sign a production contract by the end of next year, with deliveries expected to follow from 2016.

Source: Flight International