Third Squadron of Israeli Air Force’s F-35 Aircraft to Incorporate More Israeli Designed Changes

By Arie Egozi

Defence Industry
IAF F-35 2
Tel Aviv: The experience gathered by the Israeli air force (IAF) in using F-35 to intercept armed drones launched by Iran and its proxies will result in more Israeli designed changes in this aircraft used by the IAF
A third squadron of F-35 (Adir) stealth aircraft will be purchased, according to approval from the Israeli ministerial committee for defence procurement made last week.
According to the official Israeli defence forces (IDF) website, the Israeli Minister of Defence, Yoav Galant approved the recommendation of the Chief of Staff, the Director General of the Ministry of Defence, and the Commander of the Air Force, to purchase a third F-35 squadron.
”Following the approval of the Minister of Defence, the procurement delegation of the Ministry of Defence in the USA will issue an official procurement request (LOR) to the American JPO. This is in order to complete the approval and signing of the transaction in the coming months.”
According to the website, the estimated cost of the new contract is about US $ 3 billion and will be funded by the US Foreign Military Funds     (FMF) that Israel gets from the US.
Earlier, Israel had inked contracts for the procurement of 50 aircraft and two F-35 squadrons. There have been 39 deliveries, till date. It is anticipated that by the end of 2025, all 50 will be delivered.
The local changes made by the Israeli air force (IAF) in its F-35’s are the main reason for the decision to perform heavy maintenance in Israel and not send the stealth aircraft to a European maintenance center. The changes are being made to make the stealth aircraft more capable when and if Israel attacks the nuclear sites in Iran.
The first intercept of Iranian drones by IAF F-35 was in 2021. This intercept was according to the IAF “far from Israeli airspace”.
The IAF is using a special F-35 test aircraft to design the local changes.
Since the war broke out on October 7, the Iranian armed drones have become a major problem. The Israel air defence systems achieve low percentage of interception and therefore the IAF is using its aircraft, especially the F-35 for this mission.
Major General (ret.) Eitan Ben Eliyahu, former commander of the IAF told Raksha Anirveda that the decision to purchase an additional squadron of F-35 is the right one as the F-35 is a very versatile combat aircraft.
“It has the stealth capability that allows it to enter areas in enemy territory that are used to launch different weapon systems to hit Israel,” he said.
Ben Eliyahu added that the special communication systems installed in the IAF F-35 allows the pilots to communicate directly with all other forces in the area – in the air, on the ground and at sea.
“This system gives the pilot a full real time picture of threats including armed drones launched from big distances,”Maj Gen Eliyahu stated.
He added that the communication systems of F-35 operated by the IAF enables the Israeli pilots to coordinate different missions like intercepting swarms of armed drones.
This capability has been proved during joint exercises performed by the IAF and on April 13 when Iran launched a massive attack against Israel that included 180 armed drones, over 30 cruise missiles and more than 120 ballistic missiles.
Very few of these weapon systems reached Israel and made very little damage. Foreign air forces took part in the interception with IAF F-35.
The capability of the IAF F-35 pilots to communicate with all forces in a wide area is based on a dedicated system developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). This system is based on the company’s “tactical C4 architecture”. It is based on the latest Software Defined Radios (SDR) and uses generic communications infrastructure.
This systems is now being upgraded so that it will facilitate joint operations against swarms of armed drones.