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Israeli Westwind maritime patrol aircraft to fly on

The Israeli air force and navy have decided to prolong the service life of their Israel Aerospace Industries Westwind 1124 maritime patrol aircraft.

Operated by the air force on behalf of the navy, the "Shahaf" is an 1124 business jet equipped with advanced sensors, mostly supplied by IAI's Elta Systems subsidiary. The aircraft's main sensor is a high-power maritime surveillance radar.

IAI Heron unmanned air systems have been operating in parallel with the 1124 fleet for the last several years, as the air force previously intended to phase out the manned aircraft when the UAS is able to perform the mission fully.

Recently, the navy and air force decided to prolong use of the Shahaf by performing fuselage and wing treatments and by upgrading the aircraft's sensors.

One source says the decision was made due to the speed of the 1124 and the effectiveness of its radar.

"In the current situation in the Mediterranean, we need special capabilities. One is getting fast to a certain spot," the source says. Israel is currently using its manned and unmanned aircraft to protect large undersea gas reserves that have been discovered off its coast.

Follow more Israeli aviation topics by visiting Arie Egozi's Ariel View blog