Photo: Ofer Shafir
TEL AVIV – The Israel Air Force is one step closer to deploying the F-35 Lightning II, arguably the world’s most advanced stealth fighter jet, the Jerusalem Post reported.
According to the report, the Israeli defense establishment said the plane, which will be officially unveiled by manufacturer Lockheed Martin in a ceremony on Wednesday, will be a “game changer,” affording the Jewish state unrivaled aerial capabilities against its enemies.
“We in the IAF call [the F-35] the fifth generation. The whole of the IAF is going to adapt itself to this vehicle, which will take us up to another level,” IAF chief Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel said at the Herzliya Conference on Thursday, adding that the jet will greatly aid the IAF’s goals of improving intelligence-gathering and its ability to deploy precision-guided weapons.
Eshel continued that the IAF can no longer rely solely on the decision-making ability of pilots.
“We are at the point where machines will help us think,” he said.
The unveiling ceremony, which will take place at Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, will be attended by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and senior IAF officers.
This December, Israel will be the first country outside the U.S. to receive two of the planes, Keith O. Tucker, director of the Strategic Studies Group at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said. He added that the fifth generation jet will substantially upgrade the IAF’s combat abilities.
The F-35’s stealth features include guided weapons, advanced sensors, and the ability to merge different sources of data.
Tucker also made veiled references to the plane’s largely classified ability to execute cyber-attacks from the air.
The jet would also be able to spot enemies before being spotted itself. It’s helmet-mounted display system, manufactured by Israel’s Elbit Systems and Iowa-based Rockwell Collins, will provide unprecedented aerial support for ground troops by pinpointing the enemy’s location.
This would significantly bolster Israel’s combat ability opposite its foremost military enemy, Hezbollah, which according to reports has a cache of more than 120,000 rockets and radar-based surface-to-air missile batteries. The F-35’s stealth radar will mean the batteries can be attacked from long range.
Next month Israel will mark the 10th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War.