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F-35 Maintenance Agreement signed.(Photo by: ARIEL HERMONI / DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Ministry of Defense, Lockheed Martin Sign F-35 Maintenance Agreement
By ANNA AHRONHEIM
06/12/2019
Five-year long contract is worth over NIS 150 million.
US defense giant Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract by the Defense Ministry to operate and maintain the advanced F-35 training center at Nevatim Air Force Base in the South.

The five-year contract, the first maintenance agreement signed between the Defense Ministry and Lockheed Martin Israel, is worth more than NIS 150 million over the next decade, and will see the company recruit around 25 new employees from the country’s southern region.

According to a statement by the Defense Ministry, the five-year contract can be extended for an additional five years with a scope of over NIS 150m. The contract will not only provide expansive maintenance services to the State of Israel, but will also see the company operate and maintain the advanced training center, which is home to the full mission simulator (FMS), at Nevatim air base.

Lockheed Martin will also send experts and provide support and maintenance services for the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), a unique logistics and management system for the F-35 aircraft.

According to the Defense Ministry, Chief of Air Force and Navy Procurement Ze’ev Landau and CEO of Lockheed Martin Israel Joshua “Shiki” Shani both attended the signing ceremony.

“We welcome this agreement and see it as a first step to expanding our collaboration and transferring the maintenance responsibilities of the F-35 to centers in the State of Israel,” said Landau. “This project is of great strategic importance, particularly for the independence of the Israel Air Force, both in routine and emergency scenarios, but also for the economic growth of Israel’s south. Around 25 residents of the region will be employed within the project framework, and we hope that this number will continue to grow with the signing of additional maintenance contracts in the coming years.”

Shani said that with the simulator and ALIS maintenance and logistics system, “the IAF will receive immediate service and support from a local Lockheed Martin Israel staff in maintaining the F-35 aircraft.”

The mission simulator, he said, “enables advanced operational training that simulates a variety of real-time scenarios, reducing training costs, yet ensuring the full readiness of pilots for operational activity. The ALIS system enables close monitoring of the maintenance and logistics needs and streamlines the level of preparedness and operational efficiency of the aircraft, hence the great importance of the agreement with the Defense Ministry.”

The IAF currently has 14 F-35I Adir aircraft, and is expected to receive a total of 50 planes to make two full squadrons by 2024.

In late April, the IAF opened a second squadron of F-35 stealth fighter jets called “Defenders of the Negev,” with the first planes expected to arrive at the beginning of next year. The stealth jets have an extremely low radar signature, allowing them to operate undetected deep inside enemy territory, as well as evade advanced missile defense systems like the S-300 and S-400 missile defense systems that have been deployed in countries such as Syria.

With close air-support capabilities and a massive array of sensors, pilots of the stealth jet have unparalleled access to information while in the air.
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