U.S. denies Israeli access to F-35 computer system: report
The United States has denied Israel to repair computer systems in the F-35, according to local daily The Jerusalem Post on Friday.
The report said the U.S. refusal to allow Israel to repair computer systems in the F-35, the fifth-generation fighter jet, is at the heart of disagreements between Israeli Defense Ministry and the Pentagon, Xinhua reported.
These disagreements have been holding up an official Israeli order for the F-35, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), said the report.
The F-35 is a stealth fighter jet under development by Lockheed Martin. Last year, Israel received approval from the Pentagon to purchase the aircraft.
Citing Israeli defense officials, the report said that talks between the Israeli defense delegation in Washington and the Pentagon have sped up in recent weeks but have yet to result in agreement due to the U.S. refusal to grant Israel access to the plane's internal computer mainframe.
According to the report, the Americans are concerned that by allowing Israel to independently repair the computers, the Israel Air Force (IAF) will get its hands on the classified technology used to make the plane.
Israel, for its part, has argued that due to its operational requirements it needs to have the ability to repair damaged or broken computer systems in "real time" and cannot wait for a computer system to be sent to the U.S. for repairs in the middle of a war.
The Americans have told Israel it will receive a number of spare computer systems that it could install in place of a damaged system but would still have to send the damaged system to the U.S. for repairs.
"This is the core of the disagreements right now," a senior Israeli defense official was quoted as saying. "We have major operational constraints and need to have the ability to repair the systems on our own."
Due to the disagreement regarding the computer, as well as U.S. opposition to the integration of Israeli systems into the plane and its overall soaring cost -- now reaching 100 million U.S. dollars -- Israeli Defense Ministry has recently asked Boeing for details on the F-15 Silent Eagle, which was unveiled by Boeing in March and is claimed to have enhanced stealth capabilities.
For Israel, there is also an option to upgrade existing F-15s to the F-15 Silent Eagle at a much lower cost, said the report, adding that Israel operates several squadrons of F-15s, including one of 25 F-15Is, the aircraft with the longest range in the IAF.