Replacement equipment to be installed in the Israeli air force's (IAF) Lockheed Martin F-35I "Adir" fighters could include an indigenous targeting and reconnaissance system. Currently, an evaluation is focusing on the potential installation of Rafael's Litening or Reccelite designs, in place of the F-35's baseline electro-optical targeting system.
"The operational requirements of the IAF are unique, and the local, combat-proven systems have a very big advantage," notes one Israeli source. The service's needs will result in its conventional take-off and landing F-35Is receiving a number of Israeli-developed systems, with some to be installed in the USA and others in Israel.
Offering long-range detection, targeting and reconnaissance capabilities, Rafael's Litening and Reccelite systems are available as external pods for combat aircraft but a company source notes if either is selected for the Adir, it is capable of redesigning them for internal carriage.
In January, Lockheed and Israeli defence ministry officials marked the start of final assembly of the nation's first F-35. Aircraft AS-1 is expected to roll off the line in Fort Worth, Texas in June, and deliveries to the IAF should start late this year.
Israel has ordered 33 F-35Is, via two contracts placed through the US government’s Foreign Military Sales programme.