Report: New F-35 Fighter Jet Purchased by Israel From U.S. Can Carry Nuclear Bomb
The F-35 Stealth fighter aircraft that Israel is purchasing from the United States can carry a nuclear payload, Israel’s Channel 2 reported on Wednesday.
Lockheed Martin, the American aerospace, defense, security, and advanced technology company that manufactures the fighter plane declined to comment on whether the specific planes that Israel is due to receive will include nuclear capability, Channel 2 said.
The F-35 is a fifth-generation aircraft capable of evading radar and integrated air defense systems. The fighter jet is the most expensive weapon in U.S. history.
Israel signed a deal in 2013 to acquire 19 Stealth bombers for $ 2.7 billion, an amount that will be covered by the U.S. security aid package to the Jewish state, Channel 2 said.
According to Lockheed Martin representatives, Israeli fighter pilots will begin training with the new F-35s in 2016, honing their skills at the LUCK U.S. Air Force base in Arizona. The Stealth has been renamed ‘Adir’ (‘Awesome’) by the Israeli Air Force.
The first planes are expected to arrive in Israel a year later and should become fully operational by the end of 2017.
To incorporate the F-35s into the IAF, an entirely new squadron will be established in southern Israel that will be comprised of both young and veteran pilots whose skills and accomplishments will earn them a spot on this ‘dream team,’ as decided by the head of the Israeli Air Force.
Operational necessity may force the elite group of IAF pilots chosen to fly the jets to sign on for an extra tour of duty or prolong their current tours, Channel 2 said.
Nine homegrown Israeli companies have partnered with Lockheed Martin to produce parts and systems for the F-35, Channel 2 added.