THE ISRAELI AIR FORCE plans to launch a competition within the next 12 months to select a fighter to replace its remaining McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantoms and Lockheed Martin F-16A/Bs.

The replacement aircraft, due to enter service early in the first decade of the next century, will replace some 120 F-16A/Bs and around 40 F-4E 2000s.

The contest was confirmed by Lockheed Martin, which will bid with a derivative of its F-16. It will be in competition with MDC, which will offer the F-15 and, possibly, either the F-18C/D or, if the procurement falls beyond 2005, the F-18E/F.

Whether the F-18 will be considered by the Israeli air force remains to be determined. Some sources claim that the service wants to select a derivative of an aircraft already in its inventory. This would effectively limit the competition to the F-16 and the F-15.

Source: Flight International