Is­rael’s first F-35 stealth fight­ers set for land­ing

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

NEVATIM AIR BASE, Is­rael:

With Is­rael’s first F-35 stealth fight­ers set to ar­rive in the coun­try yes­ter­day, of­fi­cials are tout­ing them as ul­tra-high-tech planes that will al­low it to main­tain mil­i­tary dom­i­nance in the Mid­dle East.

The first two of 50 F-35s to be pur­chased by Is­rael from US aerospace gi­ant Lock­heed Martin were due to ar­rive at Nevatim air base in the coun­try’s south.

In a sign of the im­por­tance be­ing placed on the event, US De­fense Sec­re­tary Ash­ton Carter is to at­tend the ar­rival, ex­pected around 2:00 pm (1200 GMT ), along with his Is­raeli coun­ter­part Avig­dor Lieber­man and Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu. While other coun­tries have or­dered the planes, Is­rael-which re­ceives more than $3 bil­lion a year in US de­fense aid-says it will be the first with an op­er­a­tional F-35 squadron out­side the United States.

It is the most ex­pen­sive plane in his­tory, and while the tech­nol­ogy can seem daz­zling, it has been crit­i­cized for cost over­runs and ear­lier flaws. Is­rael how­ever says it will be key to its mil­i­tary’s fu­ture. “The F-35 con­sti­tutes an­other el­e­ment al­low­ing us to main­tain our aerial su­pe­ri­or­ity in the re­gion,” Lieber­man said in a state­ment. “A pow­er­ful air force sig­nals a pow­er­ful Is­raeli mil­i­tary, and a pow­er­ful Is­raeli mil­i­tary sig­nals a strong Is­rael.”

Is­rael has given its F-35s the name “Adir”-which means “mighty” in He­brew. Its first planes are ex­pected to be op­er­a­tional within a year af­ter de­liv­ery. It will be re­ceiv­ing the F-35A model for stan­dard take­off and land­ings. The B and C mod­els are for short take­offs and air­craft car­ri­ers.

Is­raeli com­po­nents will be in­te­grated in the plane, which will be known as the F-35I.

Among the air­craft’s main fea­tures are ad­vanced stealth ca­pa­bil­i­ties to help pi­lots evade so­phis­ti­cated mis­sile sys­tems. The sin­gle-pi­lot jets can carry an ar­ray of weapons and travel at a su­per­sonic speed of Mach 1.6, or around 1,200 miles per hour (1,900 kilo­me­ters per hour).

The ul­tra-high-tech hel­mets, at a cost of some $400,000 each, sound like some­thing out of a sci­ence fic­tion film. The hel­met in­cludes its own op­er­at­ing sys­tem, with data that ap­pears on the vi­sor and is also shared else­where. Ther­mal and night vi­sion as well as 360-de­gree views are pos­si­ble with cam­eras mounted on the plane.

In Is­rael, the planes, de­signed for mul­ti­ple com­bat sit­u­a­tions, will ini­tially re­place a group of age­ing F-16s. They are seen as help­ing the coun­try main­tain its edge in the Mid­dle East, par­tic­u­larly as its main en­emy Iran seeks fur­ther in­flu­ence in the re­gion. Is­rael is es­pe­cially con­cerned over whether Iran will seek to de­velop nu­clear weapons by vi­o­lat­ing the in­ter­na­tional ac­cord it has signed with world pow­ers.

Ne­tanyahu strongly op­posed the Iran nu­clear deal, and said in an in­ter­view broad­cast Sun­day that he wants to dis­cuss ways of aban­don­ing it with US Pres­i­den­t­elect Don­ald Trump.

“I think what op­tions we have are much more than you think. Many more,” Ne­tanyahu said in the in­ter­view with CBS’s “60 min­utes” in the United States. Ne­tanyahu gave no de­tails on what he will be propos­ing when he meets with Trump, but min­i­mized the down­side of Wash­ing­ton back­ing out of an ac­cord that in­cludes other world pow­ers, in­clud­ing its Euro­pean al­lies. “There are ways, var­i­ous ways of un­do­ing it,” he said. “I have about five things in my mind.”

Is­rael is buy­ing its first 33 F-35s at an av­er­age price of about $110 mil­lion (103.5 mil­lion Eu­ros) each. Among the ear­lier flaws un­cov­ered was one where pi­lots who weighed less than 136 pounds (62 ki­los) risked be­ing killed by its ejec­tion sys­tem. There have also been soft­ware bugs and tech­ni­cal glitches, though Lock­heed Martin says such is­sues have been over­come.—AFP

FARN­BOR­OUGH, HAMP­SHIRE, United King­dom: This file photo taken on July 12, 2016 shows the Lock­heed Martin F-35 Light­ning II tak­ing part in a fly­ing dis­play at the Farn­bor­ough Air­show, south west of Lon­don. —AFP

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