TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 21 (UPI) — The Israeli Air Force is planning upgrades for its Boeing F-15I fleet while also moving forward with procuring Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft.
Upgrades will include structural improvements as well as the installation of a new advanced radar system. Flight Global reports Israel reportedly favors the Raytheon APG-82(V)1 active electronically scanned array radar used by the United States, though the selection process is ongoing.
The planned upgrades come as work begins on Israel’s first F-35 multirole fighter. Lockheed Martin is expected to complete the jet in June 2016.
Israel was the first country to select the F-35 through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales program in October 2010, though Israeli officials maintain the F-15I is still the strategic jet of the air force.
“There is a reason it hasn’t stopped flying and conducting missions after 18 years,” Lt. Col. Yiftach said. “As an aircraft that only operates with one squadron, it has every extreme ability we would want our aircraft to have.”
The F-15I Ra’am is the IAF’s air-to-ground variant of the F-15 superiority fighter. Twenty-five of the fighters are in service with the IAF’s Hammers Squadron.