The Israeli Air Force Wants the F-35B in Addition to the A Model

An F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, performs a conventional take-off at the Strategic Expeditionary Landing Field during Exercise Steel Knight 2016 aboard the Combat Center, Dec. 11, 2015. This year’s iteration of Exercise Steel Knight works to advance 1st Marine Division’s warfighting capabilities, to include interoperability between the ground and air forces and integration of the F-35B. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Levi Schultz/Released)

From the earliest years of the Joint Strike Fighter/F-35 program to the present, Israel has continually displayed a heavy interest in buying the fifth generation multirole stealth fighter for the Israeli Air Force (IAF). At the moment, the IAF has plans to procure the F-35A Lightning II, the land-based conventional takeoff version which will be the most widely-produced iteration of the F-35 series. Redesignated the F-35I, it’ll feature Israeli-designed and manufactured weapons systems and avionics, built to the specifications of the IAF and the pilots who’ll be flying these jets. But, according to The Jerusalem Post, Israel has also recently shown interest in purchasing the F-35B, the STOVL variant of the F-35 series, as well.


Currently flown by the United States Marine Corps, the F-35B is a shipborne short takeoff/vertical landing fighter able to prosecute air-to-ground attacks or be reconfigured to fly air-to-air missions, albeit with a agility disadvantage, as this particular version of the F-35 is limited to maneuvering within an envelope of 7Gs, while the others can generally reach 9Gs with ease. A replacement for the AV-8B Harrier II jumpjet with the Marine Corps, and the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm’s long-retired Sea Harriers, it’ll serve aboard aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships to provide an air support element to battle groups or embarked detachments of Marines. Israel doesn’t have any aircraft carriers or assault ships of its own, but instead, would potentially use the F-35Bs in the event that its airbases are attacked and runways destroyed. The vertical/short takeoff capabilities of the F-35B make it extremely versatile in deployment.

F-35A maintenance

Staff Sgt. Wayne Singleton, 33rd Fighter Wing, marshals in an F-35A Lightning II at Duke Field, Fla. The maintainers, typically stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, were there to support the aircraft before and after a joint multi-wing major accident response exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Sam King)

About Ian D'Costa (240 Articles)
Ian is the editor-in-chief of the Tactical Air Network. His work has been republished and quoted in a number of publications, including The Toronto Star, Airsoc, Business Insider and The Aviationist. You can reach him at

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