The F-35I modernization program will basically help Israel better deal with threats from Syrian air defenses, especially when Damascus already has S-300 missiles.


According to Topwar, in early July 2020, a special F-35 fighter variant will arrive in Israel, marking the beginning of the F-35 modernization program being pursued by Tel Aviv. The upgrade program will help shape the future of the country’s air force.

Currently, the Israeli Air Force has 18 F-35I “Adir” 5th generation stealth fighters, out of 50 ordered from the US. These aircrafts are staffed for 140 squadrons (Golden Eagle), this is also the first stealth fighter squadron of Israel.

Unlike the US-produced F-35s for export, the F-35I “Adir” was developed by the Lockheed Martin Group based on Israeli Air Force requirements. Basically, Adir is capable of electronic warfare more powerful than conventional F-35s, accompanied by aviation sensors and equipment made by Israel itself.

The Israeli Air Force has stepped up its F-35I modernization program. Photo: The Times of Israel.
The Israeli Air Force has stepped up its F-35I modernization program. Photo: The Times of Israel.

The F-35I, which will be delivered to Israel in July, will be the first to use Israeli aviation electronics. This also means that Tel Aviv can modify the F-35I in any direction they want.

One of the special features of the F-35I is that it can identify and classify signals from enemy warning radar systems and air defense systems in real time, thereby determining the location of these systems. Target data will also be transmitted to other F-35s, ground or air combat command centers.

Thanks to Israeli-developed modifications, the F-35I can act as an early warning aircraft, not only for the air force, but also for the army and navy. In order to do this, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has built a unified digital command and control system among the armed forces.

According to former Israeli Air Force Commander General Eitan Ben Eliyahu, the current F-35I upgrade program will give the Israeli Air Force unimaginable combat capabilities, even when the F-35I is confronted with advanced enemy air defense systems.

Topwar’s military experts said that General Eliyahu was referring to Syrian air defense when referring to F-35I combat objects in the future. Currently, in the region, Syria is the only country capable of threatening the position of Israel’s No. 1 Middle Eastern air power.

With extensive combat experience and continually equipped with new weapons, such as the S-300 long-range air defense system, the Syrian air defense forces are now becoming a significant threat to the unbeaten performance of the Israeli Air Force in the Middle East. Therefore, Tel Aviv was forced to improve its air combat capability if it wanted to continue to maintain its position.

Moreover, according to the National Interest, it was reported that Israel’s F-35I was once tracked by the Russian Krasukha-4 system over Syria. This is one of the reasons Tel Aviv is determined to accelerate its F-35I modernization program, even though these fighters have only been in service for four years.


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