F-35 Won’t Be Only Fifth Generation Jet in Mideast

An F-35 plane (PRNewsFoto/Lockheed Martin Aeronautics)
An F-35 jet (PRNewsFoto/Lockheed Martin Aeronautics)

The F-35 fighter jet that Israel has decided to purchase from the U.S. won plaudits on Sunday at the national security conference of the Herzlia Center for Interdisciplinary Studies.

Tal Inbar, head of the Center for Missile Research and Unmanned Aircraft, revealed there, among other things, that at the same time the Chinese will likely sell to Iran aircraft with similar capabilities.

Gen. (ret.) Gary North, Vice President of Customer Requirements at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said the F-35 will become an “integral piece” of the future battle space. “Your neighborhood is not easy,” he said, describing it as an “asymmetric terrorism environment” that will “get tougher as the years go by.”

The F-35 will enable the IAF to operate in contested battle spaces, and let pilots become “battle space managers”, since the aircraft will handle the fusion of sensors and data for them.

“In the Fifth Generation future, speed is still important… but information is the new speed,” he said, citing the plane’s ability to lock in on “mobile threats, people who shoot and scoot and hide in urban environments.”

The F-35 is still in the testing stages in the U.S., but North reaffirmed the company’s commitment to initial delivery by next December.

Meanwhile, the Chinese version of a Fifth Generation plane, the J-20, is slated for deployment in 2018. The plane was built in China with the intention of exporting it, likely to Iran, with which it has friendly relations.