29 October, 2015 By James Drew – FG
Washington DC - Despite the Lockheed Martin F-35 programme’s “unique relationship with Israel,” the country has not been granted unfettered access to every component on the 33 aircraft it intends to purchase.
Tel Aviv is demanding much from the joint programme office (JPO), including a local maintenance, repair and overhaul facility and pilot and maintainer training with full-motion simulators, even though those types of capabilities are being centralised at planned regional F-35 centres in America, Asia and Europe. The Israeli Air Force has relative freedom to upgrade, modernise and weaponise its Boeing F-15s and Lockheed Martin F16s, and will have extended access to F-35 hardware, but there are still some aspects of the aircraft that will remain off limit, according to the US programme director. “It is a true statement that some portions of the F-35 are not releasable to any partners or customers on the F-35, not uniquely Israel,” says F-35 JPO head Lt Gen Christopher Bogdan. “Only the US services and US industry can do certain things on the airplane. That’s not unique." "[With Israel], is if there’s anything unique to put on the airplane, if we can let you do it we will, and if not we’ll work it, in your country or in the US. Israel should be able to do anything it wants to the airplane, sometimes with our help and sometimes not.”