Negotiations about a possible follow-on purchase of advanced Boeing F-15s for the Israeli air force are continuing, as the nation’s cabinet seeks a possible alternative to acquiring additional Lockheed Martin F-35s.
In November 2016, the Israeli government approved the purchase of another 17 F-35Is, bringing to 50 the number of “Adir” strike aircraft planned for its air force.
The service has been evaluating a purchase of more F-15Is to maintain its desired mix of strike aircraft with the F-35 to satisfy future operational needs. Its initial requirement was identified as for 75 F-35s, but the need to replace the oldest examples of its Boeing-built fighter has become a high priority issue. Israel has operated the twin-engined type since 1976.
It has been decided that an evaluation of an advanced version of the F-15 should be completed before any additional F-35s are purchased. Israeli sources say ongoing talks with the US Department of Defense are related to a potentially 20- to 25-aircraft deal.
Details have not been disclosed about the aircraft standard being sought, but sources indicate that this would be capable of carrying more missiles, in common with Boeing’s suggested 2040 upgrade configuration for the F-15.
Meanwhile, the Israeli air force in early March opened a dedicated maintenance training centre for the F-35I at Nevatim air base.
The first such facility to be established outside the USA, this will support personnel training related to 25 different technical professions, the air force says.
Israel requires line- and depot-level maintenance for the new type to be performed in-country, with only subsystems to be sent for support and repair overseas. Its air force took delivery of its first pair of Adirs last December.