Israel will receive an additional F-35 from Lockheed Martin in the coming years that will be specifically designed to allow the country to test upgrades for the aircraft.
The report quoted Lt. Col. Shlomy, the commander of the Air Force’s test center, as saying in reference to the test F-35, “This unique aircraft, which was not part of any other F-35 contract, will enable us to begin the work of upgrading the capabilities of this aircraft so that it answers our special operational requirements.”
According to the Israeli commander, development of the aircraft’s specifications took two years.
He added, “All our platforms have been upgraded to enable stretching the flight envelope while using the unique weapon systems made by Israeli industry.”
Israel currently has 33 F-35s on order, with plans to purchase an additional 17. The country has been approved for several dozen more beyond its current plans. The Air Force began receiving F-35s in December of last year, when the first two were delivered.
#Israel‘s new F-35Is make their first flights in Israel (accompanied by F-16I in one pic) http://t.co/vZsY5l9YzD pic.twitter.com/c4tLkUjnCc
— Derek Bisaccio (@DerekBisaccio) December 14, 2016
A further three arrived earlier this year.
Once in Israel, Israeli technicians will upgrade the jets to the F-35I standard, taking into account specific Israeli mission requirements and ensuring the aircraft can utilize Israeli air-launched weapons.