Israel and Lockheed Martin this week celebrated the start of final assembly of the first F-35A Adir ( “mighty one” in Hebrew) for Israel in Forth Worth, Texas. The aircraft, designated as F-35A aircraft AS-1, officially began its mate process, where four major components of the fighter aircraft are joined together in the Electronic Mate and Assembly Station to form the aircraft’s structure.
The first Israeli F-35A will continue its assembly in Fort Worth and is expected to roll out of the factory in June and be delivered to the Israeli Air Force (IAF) later this year.
In 2010, Israel became the first country to order the F-35 through the US Foreign Militrary Sales (FMS) program. The country signed contracts for 33 F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft.
Israel’s contribution to the F-35 program includes Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI F-35A wing production, Elbit Systems work on the Generation III helmet-mounted display system worn by all F-35 pilots fleet-wide and Elbit Systems-Cyclone F-35 center fuselage composite components production.
The Israeli Ministry of Defence is increasing its privatised airborne Elad fire-fighting squadron. Elbit Systems got an order for about 100 million US dollars on 5 January 2015 to procure six additional AirTractor AT-802Fs.
The new aircraft will join the eight earlier provided by Elbit, bringing the squadron to 14 aircraft in total. The contract, to be performed over an eight-year period, also covers flight hours, infrastructure upgrade, maintenance, airstrip operation, handling of fire retardants and other aspects of operating the squadron.
The AT-802Fs are capable of carrying approximately 792 US gallons (3,000 litres) of water and fly about three hours on a fuel tank. The aircraft will be flown by CHIM-NIR’s pilots, the project’s subcontractor.
The Elad firefighting squadron was founded four years ago following the Mount Carmel forest fire and is named after Elad Riben, the fire scout that was killed in this fire. Since its inauguration in 2011, the firefighting squadron has performed over 4,600 missions, accumulated over 2,500 flight hours and has helped extinguish over 500 potentially destructive fires across the country.
Elbit Systems announced on Sunday 4 January 2015 that it was awarded an approximately $90 million USD contract from the Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMOD) for the maintenance of the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) F-16 avionics systems. The project, to be performed over the next 11 years, will include the establishment of a new and cutting edge maintenance center for the IAF’s squadrons and bases.
Israel is one of the most extensive users of the Lockheed Martin F-16, with over 362 aircraft delivered, ranging from the older basic A and B ‘Netz’ models, to the more sophisticated C and D ‘Barak’ and finally the state-of the-art F-16I ‘Sufa’. All variants are equipped with systems specific for Israel and are still in use today, although numbers of older F-16A and B aircraft have been put aside.
The Brazilian Naval Aviation (Aviação Naval Brasileira) is upgrading its four Grumman C-1A Trader aircraft to KC-2 standard. Earlier Marsh Aviation was reported to be the sole upgrader, but Israeli based Elbit Systems is involved, according to a Elbit press release of 23 December.
The work will be done by the US subsidiary Elbit Systems of America and is a major subcontract valued at US$ 106 million, to be performed over a five-year period. The upgrade work will be done in San Antonio, Texas, at the facilities of M7 Aerospace under the supervision of Brazilian Navy officers who are currently deployed to San Antonio.
When upgraded, the Grumman C-1A aircraft will be designated as KC-2 COD/AAR (Carrier-On-Board / Air-to-Air Refueling) aircraft for the ultimate use on the Brazilian Navy’s aircraft carrier, the NAe São Paulo.
The Grumman C-1A upgrade will include aircraft return to service, engine replacement, installation and integration of new avionics (Glass Cockpit), new communication systems and ECS systems, and tanker capabilities.
Skyhawks vs Navy Gripen
The Brazilian Navy has a dozen carrier-capable Douglas A-4 Skyhawks, due to be retired in 2025. One of the possible successors is a navalized version of the SAAB JAS 39 Gripen. SAAB in Linköping, Sweden, says that version doesn’t need much adaption to the original Gripen-C/D or -E and can be available rather quick once a buyer is found.
The Israel Air Force (IAF) inaugurated the new Flight Training Center for the M-346 Lavi trainer aircraft at Hatzerim Air Force Base, prime contractor Elbit Systems reported on Monday 29 September. Elbit developed the Ground Based Training System (GBTS) center together with Alenia Aermacchi amongst others, following a selection by TOR – Advanced Flight Training, which is responsible for operating the trainer aircraft. Alenia Aermacchi delivered the first ‘real’ M-346 advanced jet trainers to the IAF earlier this year.
With the introduction of the M-346 trainer (see our exclusive report on this advanced jet trainer), emphasis is given to groundbased training in the IAF flight school’s advanced training phases, for both fighter pilots and Weapon Systems Operators (WSO’s). The GBTS consists of two Full Mission Simulators (FMS) and two Operational Flight Simulators (OFS), all linked together, offering an experience which is almost identical to real flight. Both pilots and WSOs will undergo training ranging from basic familiarity with the aircraft to the highest level of combat flight competence. This training will be performed based upon a new innovative concept where a high percentage of the syllabus is being practiced at the GBTS, with the trainees visiting the center on a daily basis.
The GBTS enable flight school cadets, as well as graduate pilots and WSOs, to practice unusual and in-flight emergency procedures, and at a more advanced level, to simulate complex combat scenarios in single aircraft or as part of a formation. Elbit Systems will provide the GBTS center with logistics services for twenty years.
Virtual This comprehensive training solution was selected by the IAF, so the pilots and WSOs will be ready and qualified to progress directly to 4th and 5th generation fighter aircraft (F-16, F-15, F-35). Parallel to training in the Flight Training Center, the cadets, young pilots and WSOs will proceed to airborne training, using Elbit’s Embedded Virtual Avionics (EVATM) onboard training system, integrated by Alenia Aeromacchi into the M346, which transforms the aircraft into a virtual advanced fighter and allows the trainees to achieve an essential experience in operating advanced systems, such as virtual Radar, Optical sensors and Electronic Warfare systems, as well as virtual Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground weapons.