July 18, 1999 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The government of Israel has officially confirmed to Lockheed Martin that it will purchase 50 F-16 aircraft after a long and intense evaluation in competition with the Boeing F-15I. The total program including the aircraft, mission equipment and a support package is worth about $2.5 billion to various suppliers.
The value to Lockheed Martin is about $1.8 billion. Israel
is acquiring an advanced version of the aircraft designated as theF-16I. The configuration includes updated avionics, color cockpit displays, and a helmet-mounted display all manufactured by Elbit; an advanced electronic warfare suite manufactured by Elisra; advanced weapons and sensors manufactured by Rafael; and other improved systems.
Israel Aircraft Industries will continue its long tradition of producing F-16 airframe components. These and other Israeli companies will contribute approximately 25 percent of the aircraft. Deliveries of the new aircraft will begin approximately three and a half years after contract signature, which is expected later this year. The engine type will be selected by the government of Israel in the near future.
The aircraft will be powered by either the Pratt Whitney F100 or General Electric F110 Increased Performance Engine versions. Israel operates the world's second largest fleet of F-16s, acquired in four previous orders. In its formal notification to Lockheed Martin, the Israeli government said the decision was based on recommendations of the Director-General of the Ministry of Defense, the Chief of the General Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, and the Commander of the Israel Air Force.
The F-16 continues as the world's most sought-after fighter. More than3, 900 have been delivered to the air forces of 19 countries to date. A total of 162 F-16s will be added to program backlog through customer decisions announced this year, including 30 more planned for the U.S. Air Force, 24 more for Egypt
, 58 more for Greece
and the 50 for Israel. In addition, two countries are in the process of acquiring F-16s from the U.S. inventory: Portugal
(25) and New Zealand