Israel is maintaining a firm stance on its demand that its future fleet of air force Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters should be equipped with "as many as possible" Israeli-made systems.

The US government has so far turned down Tel Aviv's requests to put locally produced systems on the stealthy JSF, but the Israeli air force is insistent that its next-generation aircraft should have nationally sourced electronic warfare equipment.

"We know that the [F-35] aircraft will be sold to other countries in the region, and we need to keep our edge, as in the past with other US-made aircraft," says a source related to the issue.

Israel Lockheed Martin F-35 
 © Lockheed Martin

Israel's air force recently received its last of 102 Lockheed F-16I strike aircraft, which feature domestic EW systems, and some sources say this will allow the service to delay an order for the F-35 until the company's annual production rate will allow a lower unit price than a current value of over $100 million.

The Israeli defence ministry issued a formal letter of request for the JSF in May last year, outlining a planned initial purchase of 25 US Air Force-configuration conventional take-off and landing F-35As and options for another 50.

Source: Flight International