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Author Topic: Israel May Switch to STOVL JSFs  (Read 5186 times)

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Israel May Switch to STOVL JSFs
« on: March 11, 2008, 02:38:20 AM »
Israel May Switch to STOVL JSFs
By barbara opall-rome
Published: 10 March 2008

Tel Aviv - Expanding missile threats could prompt Israel to switch its Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) procurement plans from the U.S. Air Force's F-35A to the F-35B Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL) version designed for the U.S. Marine Corps.  Israel's latest five-year plan includes funds for an initial 25-aircraft JSF squadron, the first orders for which should be finalized next year. Ultimately, the Israel Air Force (IAF) hopes to acquire up to 100 new stealth fighters, all of which were initially planned as Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL) F-35As.   But with the rapidly expanding missile threat from Gaza in the south, Lebanon in the north and - in worst-case future scenarios - from the West Bank hugging the Israeli heartland, runways could become vulnerable. As a result, the IAF may be compelled for the first time to operate in the type of improvised, austere environments envisioned for the STOVL variant of the JSF.   Government and military sources here say the specter of increasingly accurate, long-range missiles in the hands of Hamas and Hizbollah terrorists already has prompted the spending of tens of millions of dollars over the past three years to harden air bases and fortify weapon depots.   Moreover, the IAF has since the 2006 Lebanon War spent more time and money to hone an emergency plan for rapidly redeploying critical air assets from bases in the north to ones beyond the reach of the Iranian-supplied Hizbollah arsenal.   

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