Senior defense sources said on Thursday they expected no delay in the delivery
of the first F-35 fighter jets, despite reports from the US in recent days on
spats between the Pentagon and the plane’s makers, and technical
“We are not aware of any delay,” one source told The Jerusalem
The Israel Air Force is scheduled to receive the first jets in
2015, and will form a squadron of F-35s at the Nevatim Airbase in the Negev
desert, which currently houses F-16 squadrons and C-130 Hercules transport
The F-35 will ensure Israel’s regional qualitative edge in the
first quarter of the 21st century, defense chiefs say.
Israel signed a
$2.75 billion deal to purchase a squadron of 20 F-35s from Lockheed Martin, and
has received Pentagon approval to purchase an additional 55 at a later
Last week, the Pentagon suspended the flights of all F-35 fighter
planes after a routine inspection revealed a crack on a turbine blade of a test
aircraft in California.
The F-35 program office said it was too early to
know the fleet-wide impact of the engine issue, but it was suspending all
flights until an investigation into the issue was completed.
It said it
was working closely with Pratt & Whitney, the United Technologies Corp unit
which builds the engine for the fighter, and Lockheed Martin Corp, the prime
contractor for the radar-evading warplane, to ensure the integrity of the engine
and return the F-35 fleet to flight as soon as possible.
the Pentagon program chief for the F-35 slammed commercial partners Lockheed
Martin and Pratt & Whitney on Wednesday, accusing them of trying to “squeeze
every nickel” out of the US government and failing to see the long-term benefits
of the project.
US Lt.-Gen. Christopher Bogdan made the comments during a
visit to Australia, where he has sought to convince lawmakers and generals to
stick to a plan to buy 100 of the jets, an exercise complicated by the second
grounding of the plane this year and looming US defense cuts.
contributed to this report.