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F-35’s First Missions: Intelligence and Covert Operations

Israel's first F-35 unveiled by Lockheed Martin (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

Yesterday at an event in Texas, Israel's newest high-tech weapon was unveiled. The Jerusalem Post's Yaakov Lappin reports that soon enough, the F-35 stealth fighter will begin flying missions for the Israeli Air Force (IAF):

Once they touch down at Nevatim Air Base this December, the Israel Air Force will begin a race against the clock to make the stealth aircraft a key part of daily operations within one year.

According to Brig.-Gen. Tal Kelman, IAF chief of staff, the planes will receive by December 2017 the status of initial operational capability, meaning that little time will pass between when Israel receives the jets and when they begin flying missions.

As soon as they become active within the IAF, the planes will begin taking over jobs currently carried out by F-15s and F-16s – flights that are critical to maintaining Israeli security – and F-35s will begin performing them at a level previously unseen in the Middle East.

Top priority missions will include intelligence-gathering flights to glean data on Israel’s enemies. Intelligence flights will deploy the plane’s array of sensors, and call on its ability to share large quantities of data on a military Intranet in real time.

Such data can be used to learn about vital security developments, or be stored for later use if needed.

The advantage the F-35 brings here also lies in one plane’s ability to defend itself against threats that previously required a formation of older aircraft to deal with.

A single F-35 can fly far from Israel’s borders, monitor enemy activity, and deal with advanced surface-to-air missile systems if needed. No single fourth-generational fighter jet can do all of those tasks on that level.

Due to its stealthy radar-evasive profile, and specialty in long-range, precision strikes, the F-35 should be able to take the lead in a covert strike program...

Tags: US-Israel Relations

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