Israel Upgrades Fighter Planes Over Delayed F-35 Delivery


Lockheed Martin F-16; more than 300 of these fighters are in the inventory if the Israeli Air Force

Lockheed Martin F-16; more than 300 of these fighters are in the inventory if the Israeli Air Force (www.jb-photography.org)

The Israeli Air Force is planning to upgrade a third of its fleet of 300+ F-16 fighter jets over an expected delay in delivery of 20 new F-35 Lightning II fighters.

The order for the new stealthy F-35 or Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) was placed in 2010, pilot training was scheduled to commence in 2014 and the delivery date was set for some time during 2015. Because of several problems with the new plane, Israel will now have to wait two years longer.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is now getting worried about the lifespan of its fleet of ageing F-16s and wants to upgrade about 100 aircraft. The F-16 C/D Block 30/40 – in operation since 1987/88 – will get a new flight control system and central cockpit display. New high-res screens a domestically produced sight helmet system will improve the pilot’s situational awareness and with a domestically produced sight helmet system the pilot will be able to choose a target simply by looking at it.

Israel is the second largest F-16 operator after the U.S. with more than 300 planes in the IAF’s inventory. Besides the now to be upgraded about 100 F-16 C/D, there are another 100 older F-16 A/B, delivered in 1980/81 and 1994. The rest are F-16I, a specially modified variant for the needs of the IAF.

The Israeli F-16s made military history during Operation Babylon, when on 7 June 1981 an attack squadron of eight F-16A fighter bombers, covered by six F-15A fighters, destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor complex near Baghdad in Irak.

(Image Copyright Johann Brandstatter/JB Photography)

(Sources: UPI, f16.net, Defense Industry Daily; 14 Dec 2011)

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About Johann Brandstätter

Photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Bulgaria, working mainly in the Balkans and the Middle East. Conflicts & crises, social and environmental issues, defense & military, travel, transportation.
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