Israel’s new F-35s: A ‘quantum leap in air dominance’


The much anticipated arrival today of two F-35 Lightning II aircraft at Nevatim Airforce base near Beersheva “represents a quantum leap in air dominance capability” according to American-based Lockheed Martin manufacturers.

The arrival of the high-tech craft was delayed by fog between Italy and Israel, but the first two planes finally landed Monday evening.

The array of dignitaries on hand to welcome the planes included Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Rueven Rivlin, Israel Air Force Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel and U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Their presence underscored the strategic importance of the arrival of world’s most advanced and expensive – $100 million each – military aircraft, substantially contributed to by Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit Systems Ltd.

“Israel is your best friend in the Middle East, and I think beyond the Middle East,” Netanyahu said in thanking U.S. President Barack Obama as the fighter jets were due to arrive. “I want to say clearly — anybody who thinks of attacking us, will be attacked. Only strength brings deterrence, only strength brings peace.”

The goal of the acquisition is, “to attack places that we are not always able to attack,” according to Lt-Col. Yotam, the Adir Squadron commander.

Israel will ultimately purchase 50 such planes.

The aircraft is capable of evading the Russian made S-300 missile defense systems located in both Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility and in Syria, raising the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran’s rapidly progressing nuclear arms capability.

In a covert mission in 2007, Israeli F-15 and F-16 aircraft used electronic jamming systems to destroy a secret nuclear reactor in Syria near the Turkish border. Attacking the Iranian facility, however, would have much wider implications.

The F-35 purchase is reminiscent of the British development of the Spitfire fighter plane in World War II, whose speed and agility historians agree was key to turning the tide of the war against the far superior German Luftwaffe, most notably in the 1940 Battle of Britain.

Perhaps the biggest competition for today’s F-35 is the Chinese J-20 stealth fighter.

“The F-35 combines fifth generation fighter aircraft characteristics — advanced stealth, integrated avionics, sensor fusion and superior logistics support,” states Lockheed, “with the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in history. The F-35’s advanced stealth allows pilots to penetrate areas without being detected by radars that legacy fighters cannot evade.”

Some may say the prophet Isaiah was referring to aircraft such as the F-35 when he wrote some 2,700 years ago:

“Like birds hovering overhead, the Lord Almighty will shield Jerusalem; he will shield it and deliver it, he will ‘pass over’ it and will rescue it.”
Isaiah 31:5