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Israel prepares ground for F-35I testing

The Israeli air force's chief flight test engineer wants an early as possible delivery of its Lockheed Martin F-35 test asset, to expedite the process of adapting locally-produced weapon systems to the aircraft.

Israel's contracts for the F-35I "Adir" include a test example, which will be operated by its flight-test centre.

According to the centre's chief flight-test engineer – identified only as Lt Col Ori – the test aircraft will also have an operational capability, but its main duty will be to enable the development of Israeli systems to enhance the F-35's combat capabilities for Israel.

"We will have to test Israeli-made weapons systems, so that they can be carried in the weapons bay of the aircraft – and test it under different situations," he says.

Israel's first two F-35s are scheduled to land in the nation on 12 December. Adaptations for its air force include enabling the fighter to carry Rafael's Python 5 and Derby air-to-air missiles, along with the same company's Litening 5 targeting pod.

Another six F-35s will be delivered to Israel in 2017, with its air force having so far committed to acquiring an additional 25 conventional take-off and landing examples.

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