Last week, Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan, the Head of the Global F-35 Joint Program Office arrived in Israel leading up to the arrival of the first two F-35I stealth fighters a year from now. The Joint Program Office (JPO) is the global leader in development of the F-35 jets, and as such, also responsible for the advancement of the Israeli project and the successful reception of the jets in the IAF.
“I came to Israel in order to make sure all of the preparations leading up to the arrival of the first F-35 jets are progressing as expected, and in order to listen to all of the concerns that the senior officers in the Ministry of Defense and the IDF have regarding the reception of the jets and new systems- and solve them,” said Lt. Gen. Bogdan.
During his visit the general observed the preparation of infrastructure at “Nevatim” Airbase, met with IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, and visited Aerial Defense Batteries in Southern Israel. “The IAF is one of the best air forces in the world. When it comes to abilities, there is no doubt that it is able, very quickly, to bring the F-35 to Israel and understand the best ways to use it.”
Israel will build power exceptionally fast
The IAF will be the first outside of the US to operate an operational F-35 squadron. The F-35 will be named the “Adir” (Hebrew for Mighty). About a year ago the Ministerial Committee of Equipment confirmed the establishment of a second F-35 squadron at the “Nevatim” Airbase, and the purchase of precise aerial munition.
“From the beginning of the project, a few years ago, we assumed the IAF would be interested in purchasing the jets as soon as possible. I believe that the urgency is a result of the F-35 being a very advanced and useful jet in the ‘neighborhood’ in which Israel lives,” said the head of the JPO during an exclusive IAF site interview.
“The arena in which you live changes quickly and in order to ensure regional security and Israel’s security you must equip yourself with the most advance technology available, in order to maintain an edge over any other organization in the area.”
When the advanced jet arrives in Israel it will bring new operational and maintenance capabilities. As a part of the reception process a maintenance team from the US Air Force and the JPO meet regularly to share operational knowledge and examine how to maintain the stealthy jet.
“Being a pioneer in any frontier can make the reception process complex and create learning situations throughout the process. From this aspect, we have many questions for the IAF and vice-versa that need to be answered,” explained Lt. Gen. Bogdan. “The Israeli time frame for the reception of the jet is very short, so we have a lot of work and little time, but we will deliver by working together.”
What Abilities Does the F-35 Bring to the IAF?
“The F-35 is a multi-mission aircraft that has two designated missions simultaneously: air-air combat (dog-fights), in other words – it has the ability to create aerial supremacy when it combats other aircraft or other objects in the air, and air-ground combat, meaning the ability to hit and demolish targets on the ground.
The jet will bring a combination of stealth technology, survivability, self-defense and radar that makes it a supreme jet in protection of the country. When combined, these elements create a weapons system vital to the state of Israel in the present and future when facing threats,” Lt. Gen. Bogdan said.
What are the next milestones in the Israeli F-35 Project?
“There are a few stages on the way to full operational ability. The first is next December in which Israel will receive the first two jets. From December 2016, and during the following year, we will continue to provide jets so in practice you will have ‘initial operational ability’ in a few years.
“In other words, you will have enough jets and supplies in order to use the entirety of the jets if necessary. Afterwards, we will continue to strengthen your abilities so you will have your first squadron, two years later a second squadron and hopefully afterwards the USA and Israel will arrive at some official agreement that will lead to the assembly of a third squadron. This will apparently take place in the beginning of 2020.”
Currently, following the establishment of the squadron, the F-35’s squadron building will be inaugurated and the IAF’s F-35 establishment team is working around the clock on the reception of the jet.
In order to be ready for the moment in which the jets arrive, the IAF is preparing ahead for a number of events that need to be executed as soon as possible: training and qualification of maintenance and air crew teams, maintenance equipment and critical infrastructure.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense