(From the National Interest)
By David Axe
Israel is practically a launch customer for the American-designed F-35 stealth fighter. The Jewish state plans on declaring its first squadron of the radar-evading jet combat-ready by the end of 2017.
That’s just two years after the U.S. Marine Corps’ declaration of war-readiness for its F-35s — and one year later than the U.S. Air Force’s own planned introduction of the new plane.
And Israel’s F-35s will be unique. While most foreign customers of the stealth fighter plan to operate fairly standard F-35s, Tel Aviv is heaping its own special tech onto the airframe.
And that’s not the only way in which Israel’s F-35s will be unique. The country should also possess a regional F-35 monopoly for at least a decade after bringing the stealth fighters into service.
Israel has a long tradition of adding unique hardware and software to jet fighters it acquires from abroad. With their fuselage-mounted fuel tanks, enlarged spines for housing avionics and other additions, Israeli air force F-16s are distinctive compared to their more mundane American counterparts. Read more