Pentagon Approves Israeli F-35 Input

The Pentagon reportedly agreed to allow the Israelis to make modifications to their F-35 strike fighters, including integration of an indigenously enhanced electronic warfare suite and Israeli-specific electronics, reports Reuters. The Pentagon’s F-35 program office “is working closely with Israel and Lockheed Martin on a package of enhancements” for the Israeli airplanes, confirmed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during a joint press briefing with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Aug. 1 in Ashkelon, Israel. Panetta, on an official visit to Israel, added, “This will ensure Israel’s unquestioned air superiority for years to come.” The enhancement package has a value of some $450 million, according to Reuters’ July 26 report. Israel signed an agreement in October 2010 to acquire up to 20 F-35s under a foreign military sales arrangement with a potential total value of $2.75 billion. Congress approved selling the Israelis as many as 75 of the stealth fighters. (Panetta-Barak transcript)