Tag Archives: Israel

First Israeli F-35 ‘Adir’ ‘in final assembly

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.

Contract

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.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): An F-35A inflight. (Image © Lockheed Martin)

The end for A-4 Skyhawk in Israel

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) on Sunday 13 December said good bye to the McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk after 48 years of service. A formation flight flew over all IAF bases on Sunday morning. The Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master takes over the A-4’s training duties.

The Skyhawks flew for the final time from Hatzerim airbase, witnessed by many active and former IAF-personnel. Virtually every pilot in the IAF flew the A-4 at one time or another, as the type was reponsible for pilot training over the last decades. It was applauded for its reliability during the farewell ceremony.

The first Skyhawk – called Ayit ( Eagle) in Hebrew – arrived in Israel on 29 December 1967 when the first four were unloaded from a ship in Haifa harbour. The type saw combat during various conflicts between Israel and its neighbouring states from 1967 until 1970. During the 1973 Yom Kippur war, Skyhawks flew 1,000 operational sorties.

Two seater A-4 Skyhawks were the most numerous in flight training. (Image © IAF)
Two seater A-4 Skyhawks were the most numerous in flight training. (Image © IAF)

Flight School
In the nineties, 102 The Flying Tigers squadron, a long time Skyhawk user, was transformed into a flight school for future pilots and weapons operators. A large number of Skyhawks was sold to new users, among them various companies providing training assets to Western air forces.

On 9 July 2014, the first Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Masters arrived in Israel. Just months later, a new Flight Training Center for the new, Italian made trainer jet was ready for use, marking the beginning of the end for the A-4.

Close to 20 of 30 M-346 trainer jets ordered, have been delivered so far. Last June, the first student pilots earned their wings on the Skyhawk’s replacement.

The A-4 now only remains in use in Argentina and Brazil. The first of 12 Skyhawks was re-delivered to the Brazilian Navy (Marinha do Brasil) earlier this year after being upgraded.

© 2015 Airheadfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A set of Skyhawks awaits take off clearance. (Image © IAF

A former IAF Skyhawk, now working for a civil contractor. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A former IAF Skyhawk, now working for a civil contractor. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

El Al wants Dreamliners, 767s possibly to Air Force

El Al wants to buy up to 28 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, of which 15 will be purchased first and the remainder 13 will be options, Boeing announced on 5 August 2015.

The flag carrier of Israel currently flies a all-Boeing fleet of 37 aircraft, consisting of eighteen Boeing 737s (2x -700, 11x -800, 5x -900), seven Boeing 747-400s, six Boeing 767-300s and six 777-200s.

The Dreamliners are likely to replace most of the fleet, apart from the 737s, with the Boeing 767 being freed up to a possible conversion to in-flight refuelling aircraft by the Israeli Air Force. The military has expressed renewed interest in this tanker solution offered by Israel Aerospace Industries now that Boeing is delayed with its KC-46A tanker program for the US Air Force.

Seven Boeing KC-707 “Saknai” currently provide the Israeli Air Force with tanker capability needed for f. ex. air strikes on long distances. They are getting old and need replacement.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): Roll out of the first 787-900 Dreamliner in August 2013. (Image © Boeing)

Test flight with the new Boeing 767-300ER MMTT tanker/cargo aircraft converted by IAI (Image © Israel Aerospace Industries)
Test flight with the new Boeing 767-300ER MMTT tanker/cargo aircraft converted by IAI. The type has been sold to Brazil and Colombia and is now an option for the Israeli Air Force (Image © Israel Aerospace Industries)

Jordan flies dozen Israeli Cobras “as border patrol”

Jordan flies about a dozen ex-Israeli Air Force Bell AH-1E/F Cobras in the “border patrol”, counter-insurgency role and in operations against so-called Islamic State forces, according to a fresh report by Reuters.

The international press agency quotes sources with insight in the deal, in which Israel apparently has transferred 16 of its decommissioned Bell attack helicopters to its Arab neighbour. Some are used for spare parts, but it is believed that 10 to 12 actually do fly. The Royal Jordanian Air Force already received 32 ex-US Army AH-1Fs, delivered in the late 1990s and beginning of the 2000s. About 20 to 25 of those are believed to still be operational, flying out of Zarqa Airbase, although some sources say only 12 are in flyable condition.

The location of the ex-Israeli Cobras is unknown, but may very well be a forward operating base aligned to the Cobra units based at Zarqa. Israeli Air & Space Force’s 160 Squadron flew the Cobras until it was disbanded in 2013 for budgetary and safety reasons. Jerusalem tried to sell the attack choppers to Nigeria first, but that deal was blocked by the United States as we reported earlier.

2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: An Israeli Air Force AH-1 during live fire demonstration on 28 June 2011 at the IAF Academy (Image (CC) Oren Rozen)

Israel puts surplus F-16s on the market

‘Well used’ is a term that would definitely apply to former Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-16A and B models. Nevertheless, Tel Aviv has offered the type to Croatia as a replacement for its even more vintage MiG-21s. At the same time, Colombia is said to be interested in former Israeli F-16s to take the place of its troubled Kfir fighter aircraft – yes, also from Israel.

Israel received its first F-16A Netz (Hawk in Hebrew) in July 1980, the irony being that it concerned aircraft that were first destined for Iran. The Netz saw extensive use  with the (IAF) and made headlines by bombing the Osirak nuclear plant in Iraq on 7 June 1981.

Over the last decades, F-16C/D Barak (Lightning) and F-16I Sufa (Storm) took over frontline duties, with the Netz being used to train pilots. Recently, the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 has been taking over the training role.

Surplus F-16s are now being offered to Croatia in ACE configuration. This Israel-made update involves a new fire control radar, a helmet-mounted display capability and new cockpit displays. The bid sees competition from Sweden (Saab Gripen C/D) and the US (used F-16C/D).

Colombia
Meanwhile, Colombia is not happy at all with its small fleet of Israeli made Kfir fighter aircraft since one of the type crashed on 31 December last year. Rumours about a possible Mirage 2000 deal with France proved unfounded, and now the Colombians seem to have turned to Israel once again, inquiring about the F-16 Netz.

According to sources, the ACE modification also added about 1,000 flight hours of service life to the old F-16s, which without a doubt are among the most hard-used F-16s anywhere.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): Two Israeli F-16A Netz jets come in for landing. (Image © IAF)