Work to produce air vehicle spares and endurance spares for Israel has started in F-35 production facilities in the United States and United Kingdom.
According to a recently posted contract notice, Lockheed Martin was awarded $14m for ‘the procurement of initial air vehicle spares to include endurance spares packages to coincide with F-35 air vehicle deliveries in support of the government of Israel’.
The notice read:
“Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas (24.4 percent); El Segundo, California (9.1 percent); Owego, New York (8.6 percent); Samlesbury, United Kingdom (7.2 percent); Cheltenham, United Kingdom (6.2 percent); Nashua, New Hampshire (5.8 percent); Torrance, California (5.5 percent); Orlando, Florida (4.9 percent); Cedar Rapids, Iowa (3.7 percent); San Diego, California (3.6 percent); Phoenix, Arizona (3.1 percent); Melbourne, Florida (3.1 percent); Irvine, California (2.5 percent); N. Amityville, New York (2.4 percent); Windsor Locks, Connecticut (2.2 percent); Baltimore, Maryland (2.2 percent); Papendrect, Netherlands (1.9 percent); Rolling Meadows, Illinois (1.8 percent); and Alpharetta, Georgia (1.8 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2021.”
Israel is currently building the infrastructure needed to accommodate F-35s, including hardened aircraft shelters, underground pens, and maintenance facilities. In addition, the IAF has ordered 30 M-346 trainer jets to train F-35 pilots. Construction of a manufacturing facility to produce wings under license for the F-35 was completed by mid-2014. The site is to produce a total of 811 wing pairs. Initial orders for the F-35 will be for 20 planes, with a total of 75 intended.
The first customized F-35I test platform is expected to be delivered to Israel by 2020. Former Israel Air Force chief Maj.-Gen Amir Eshel has called the F-35 “game changing” saying that Israel gathered new intelligence during a single flight by the F-35 early 2017 that other reconnaissance and intelligence gathering systems would take weeks to gather. The IAF declared the first batch of F-35s operational in December 2017.