Israel will continue to demand that its own electronic-warfare systems be integrated into the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) fifth-generation stealth fighter jet, senior defense officials said Tuesday, amid US news reports that the Pentagon would not allow the installation of an Israeli EW system in the plane.
On Tuesday, Jon Schreiber, the Pentagon official in charge of the JSF - also known as the F-35 - told Reuters that for now, the US did not plan on allowing Israel to put in its own EW system.
On the other hand, Schreiber, who met last week with an Israeli procurement team in New York, said that the US would allow the Israel Air Force to integrate Israeli precision guidance bombs, such as the Spice - made by Rafael Systems Ltd. - into the jet.
"Sometime in the future, if policy changes, or things change, that could change as well," Schreiber said regarding the integration of Israeli EW systems.
The refusal to let Israel to integrate the systems into the plane would be a bad break for the IAF, which in previous purchases of aircraft, including the F-15 and F-16, had been allowed to incorporate such technology.
"Our demands have never changed - to be allowed to integrate special munitions, communications and radar and EW," a senior defense official said. "This is the same with regard to the JSF."
In January, the US will submit to Israel its offer and the final price of the plane, estimated to reach at least $130 million. Israel will need to respond by March and sign a contract within the year in order to begin receiving the plane by 2015.
The F-35 will be one of the most advanced fighter jets in the world and will enable Israel to phase out some of its older F-15 and F-16 models.
According to the IAF, the plane - manufactured by Lockheed Martin - will significantly boost Israel's deterrence in the Middle East and provide it with an edge over adversaries that operate advanced anti-aircraft systems, since it cannot be detected by existing radars.