Israel is upgrading its Lockheed Martin F-16I combat aircraft with several undisclosed systems in order to cope with the increased threat from surface-launched missiles.

A senior air force officer tells Flightglobal that intelligence reports indicate that the enhancement is necessary.“The threats we are facing and will face, according to intelligence assessments, require the installation of new systems," he says.

“We put a focus on dealing with surface-to-air missiles that threaten the aircraft and the need to destroy surface-to-surface missile sites that are ready for launch into Israel."

The air force is particularly aware of the possibility that it will have to attack locations defended by advanced anti-aircraft systems, notably the Russian-made NPO Almaz S-300, which Iran is attempting to acquire.

In May, the service took part in a joint exercise with its Greek counterpart and performed missions against the latter’s S-300 batteries.

In a separate initiative, Tel Aviv is equipping one squadron of F-16Is with Boeing’s GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb.

A recent operational review of the service’s 107 Sqn cleared the unit to utilise the GPS-guided munition.Previously, the Israeli air force has deployed the GBU-39 on F-15Is flown by 69 Sqn.