Procurement: June 8, 2002


Israel is scrambling to get in on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program before there are no more opportunities to make parts for all of the production aircraft. Most of the major systems and components have already been selected, leaving Israel with only a few small systems to bid on (and the one they already have, the helmet-mounted target cuing system). Six months ago, Israel would have had many more choices, but every partner that buys into the program locks up more and more of the workshare. But getting a share of the production work is only part of the problem. When the first production aircraft come off the assembly line starting in
2010, everybody involved wants more than their share so they can start training. Israel, which is constantly in a state of armed combat, wants to have most of the initial production for immediate operational needs, and has hinted that it would forgo some production work in trade for earlier deliveries. This idea is not entirely rejected by other customers, who wouldn't mind seeing the aircraft proven in combat (and any problems discovered and fixed) before they buy too many of them.--Stephen V Cole


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