Dedicated Israeli trials F-35A makes first flight

Unread postPosted: 17 Apr 2020, 15:41
by spazsinbad
Dedicated Israeli trials F-35A makes first flight
May 2020 Dave Allport

"LOCKHEED MARTIN has flown a one-off F-35A specifically built as a trials aircraft for the Israeli Air Force (IAF). Serial 924 (c/n AS-15, FMS 15-5232), which is a sub-variant of the Israeli F-35I Adir, made its maiden flight from Fort Worth, Texas, on March 4.

Israel has ordered 50 F-35Is, but unlike the remaining aircraft, this one is not intended for operational service and will remain in use as a dedicated test machine. It will be operated by the IAF’s Flight Test Centre, also known as MANAT (its acronym in Hebrew) and previously designated as 601 Squadron, at Tel Nof Air Base. The unit undertakes aircraft and weapons trials, avionics integration and airframe modification and testing."

Photo: "Photographed during its maiden flight, F-35A serial 924 already has telemetry test markings liberally applied along three-quarters of the length of the fuselage. Henry B Ham"


Source: AirForces Monthly Magazine May 2020 Issue 386

Re: Dedicated Israeli trials F-35A makes first flight

Unread postPosted: 14 May 2020, 23:08
by energo
spazsinbad wrote:
Photo: "Photographed during its maiden flight, F-35A serial 924 already has telemetry test markings liberally applied along three-quarters of the length of the fuselage. Henry B Ham"


Never imagined that "spots" could be that awesome. :mrgreen:

Re: Dedicated Israeli trials F-35A makes first flight

Unread postPosted: 17 May 2020, 18:03
by mixelflick
Hmmmm...

And what would this dedicated one off airframe be dedicated to?

My guess would be integration of wing tanks. If memory serves, they were working on "regular" EFT's and stealthy ones, likely CFT's? They may have only 50, but they'll for sure get the most out of them. It's not like the old days though. Syria is busy with a civil war, and Israel and Egypt (gratefully) are on much better terms.

Still, I wonder how Egypt or especially Iran getting SU-35's would change the calculus. I'm sure what we've learned flying against Flankers has been shared.

Re: Dedicated Israeli trials F-35A makes first flight

Unread postPosted: 17 May 2020, 19:33
by wrightwing
mixelflick wrote:Hmmmm...

And what would this dedicated one off airframe be dedicated to?

My guess would be integration of wing tanks. If memory serves, they were working on "regular" EFT's and stealthy ones, likely CFT's? They may have only 50, but they'll for sure get the most out of them. It's not like the old days though. Syria is busy with a civil war, and Israel and Egypt (gratefully) are on much better terms.

Still, I wonder how Egypt or especially Iran getting SU-35's would change the calculus. I'm sure what we've learned flying against Flankers has been shared.

"but unlike the remaining aircraft, this one is not intended for operational service and will remain in use as a dedicated test machine. It will be operated by the IAF’s Flight Test Centre, also known as MANAT (its acronym in Hebrew) and previously designated as 601 Squadron, at Tel Nof Air Base. The unit undertakes aircraft and WEAPONS trials, AVIONICS integration and AIRFRAME modification and testing."

As for fleet size, Israel has currently ordered 50, have stated a desire for 75-100, and based upon history with F-15/16s, will likely end up with later orders as well. They've got a lot of 4th generation jets that will need replacing.

Re: Dedicated Israeli trials F-35A makes first flight

Unread postPosted: 18 May 2020, 09:40
by hornetfinn
mixelflick wrote:Hmmmm...

And what would this dedicated one off airframe be dedicated to?

My guess would be integration of wing tanks. If memory serves, they were working on "regular" EFT's and stealthy ones, likely CFT's?


That might be part of what they'll do with it. I bet they will also integrate Israeli weapons and possibly avionics systems or at least software (especially EW related). There might be things that they do not want to share with anybody else in all of those categories (like EW systems or nukes).

Re: Dedicated Israeli trials F-35A makes first flight

Unread postPosted: 18 May 2020, 14:19
by mixelflick
wrightwing wrote:
mixelflick wrote:Hmmmm...

And what would this dedicated one off airframe be dedicated to?

My guess would be integration of wing tanks. If memory serves, they were working on "regular" EFT's and stealthy ones, likely CFT's? They may have only 50, but they'll for sure get the most out of them. It's not like the old days though. Syria is busy with a civil war, and Israel and Egypt (gratefully) are on much better terms.

Still, I wonder how Egypt or especially Iran getting SU-35's would change the calculus. I'm sure what we've learned flying against Flankers has been shared.

"but unlike the remaining aircraft, this one is not intended for operational service and will remain in use as a dedicated test machine. It will be operated by the IAF’s Flight Test Centre, also known as MANAT (its acronym in Hebrew) and previously designated as 601 Squadron, at Tel Nof Air Base. The unit undertakes aircraft and WEAPONS trials, AVIONICS integration and AIRFRAME modification and testing."

As for fleet size, Israel has currently ordered 50, have stated a desire for 75-100, and based upon history with F-15/16s, will likely end up with later orders as well. They've got a lot of 4th generation jets that will need replacing.


Thank you.

And yes I agree on fleet size, 100 or more isn't just likely, but probable. They'll keep the F-15 (and maybe buy new ones) but it's hard to see them doing the same for the F-16. There's nothing the F-16 can do that the F-35 can't, so why keep them around?

Perhaps as dedicated aggressors, if they have those types of units. I have a feeling Iran and perhaps Egypt/UAE will be getting advanced Fulcrum and/or Flanker derivatives. Obviously Iran is the worst case scenario, and they'll need something to counter new SU-35's/Mig-35's in the area. While those aircraft still lag behind their F-15's/16's, they're much closer to parity than what Iran currently flies. Frankly, I'm surprised Israel hasn't attempted to build a stealth air superiority machine of their own.

If Japan, South Korea, the EU, Turkey and others are giving it a go... Israel certainly could IMO. True, it would probably use derivatives of US engines, but a new airframe isn't beyond them. Look at Lavi... or should I say the J-10, LOL.

Re: Dedicated Israeli trials F-35A makes first flight

Unread postPosted: 18 May 2020, 18:46
by lbk000
mixelflick wrote:Frankly, I'm surprised Israel hasn't attempted to build a stealth air superiority machine of their own.

If Japan, South Korea, the EU, Turkey and others are giving it a go... Israel certainly could IMO. True, it would probably use derivatives of US engines, but a new airframe isn't beyond them. Look at Lavi

But why would they need to? Israel already has carte blanche on the F-35.
The only reason why ATD-X, KFX, FCAS, Tempest, and TFX exist is because everyone wants the privilege to do whatever they want with their toys, and the traditional way of getting that is to go to the expense of doing it yourself.
Israel doesn't need to build a privilege they already have.

Re: Dedicated Israeli trials F-35A makes first flight

Unread postPosted: 21 May 2020, 13:35
by spazsinbad
Israel's 'Mighty Ones'
Jun 2020 Arie Egozi

"The Israeli Air Force was the first F-35 operator to expose the type to combat and is looking forward to receiving a dedicated flying testbed as it adds more indigenous equipment to the stealth fighter. Meanwhile, as Arie Egozi explains, Israeli industry has an eye on picking up increased workshare now Turkey has departed the programme....

...While the frontline F-35I is gaining combat experience, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) has prepared a list of additional weapons and other “functional” systems that it intends to demonstrate on a specially configured F-35A test aircraft. This testbed – serial 924 (c/n AS-15, FMS 15-5232), a sub-variant of the Israeli F-35I – has been manufactured according to IAF specifications and took two years to prepare. It made its maiden flight from Fort Worth, Texas, on March 4 and is scheduled to be delivered later this year. It will be operated by the IAF’s Flight Test Centre, also known as MANAT (its acronym in Hebrew) and previously designated as 601 Squadron, at Tel Nof Air Base, south of Tel Aviv. The unit undertakes aircraft and weapons trials, avionics integration and airframe modification and testing.

The aim of the special aircraft is to adapt Israeli developed systems to the IAF’s operational F-35Is, with the Flight Test Centre working to enhance the capabilities of the Adir in both air to- air and air-to-ground missions. An officer from the centre told AFM: “All our platforms have been upgraded to enable expansion of the flight envelope while using the unique weapon systems made by Israeli industries.”

Since the first two examples of the stealth fighter aircraft arrived at Nevatim Air Base, southeast of Be’er Sheva, in December 2016, some locally made systems have been trialled in different scenarios. But only when the test aircraft arrives can this experimental work be performed to its full extent....

...Adir deliveries
In October 2010, the Israeli defence ministry signed a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) for the F-35, becoming the first overseas customer to receive aircraft via the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. Acquisition of an initial 50 F-35I Adir jets was approved by the Israeli government.

Two F-35Is were ordered under the eighth batch of low-rate initial production (LRIP 8, Fiscal Year 2014). Seven more followed under LRIP 9 (FY2015), six under LRIP 10 (FY2016) and at least six were added under LRIP 11 (FY2017), for a total of 21. Each of LRIP 12 (FY2018), LRIP 13 (FY2019) and LRIP 14 (FY 2020) were expected to contain six aircraft for Israel.

The initial cadre of Israeli pilots began training at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in early 2016. The first F-35I was unveiled at Fort Worth on June 22, 2016, and took its maiden flight on July 25. The second aircraft flew for the first time on August 8, 2016.

Delivery of the first two aircraft to Nevatim Air Base took place on December 12, 2016. Three more followed in April 2017, a further pair in September and two more in November. The F-35I achieved initial operational capability in December 2017, at which point nine aircraft were in the country.

Deliveries in 2018 comprised three in June 2018, while aircraft AS-13 and AS-14 followed in November. Aircraft AS-16 and AS-17 were delivered in July 2019, followed by AS-18 and AS-19 in September and AS-20 and AS-21 in November. Twenty aircraft have now been delivered to Israel, to equip two squadrons at Nevatim Air Base – 116 ‘Lions of the South’ and 140 ‘Golden Eagle’ – while the 21st aircraft, AS-15, is the dedicated test aircraft that took to the air last March...."

Source: AIRFORCES MONTHLY Magazine June 2020 Issue 387