Despite accusations from military experts that America's F-35 stealth aircraft may not be as stealthy as originally planned, the plane's creators at Lockheed Martin recently promised that the 19 advanced jets to be sold to Israel in 2016 will have all the stealth abilities that had originally been agreed to.
The first squadron of aircraft are planned to be welcomed at Nevatim Air Force base in southern Israel where they will be turned into the 'F-35I', a version of the fifth generation fighter-bomber specifically improved to meet Israel's needs.
The Israeli version of the combat jet will be unique for its Electronic Warfare (EW) System that will be added to the plane. Malfunctions and other issues plaguing F-35 production are not expected to have any effect on the timing of the plane's arrival to Israel.
- US-Iranian attempts to smuggle F-35 blueprints to Iran US finds 363 problems in F-35 stealth aircraft
Concerns over the F-35's stealth performance and questions relating to its cost are still concerning some experts however.
Bill Sweetman, a senior editor for the magazine Aviation Week, said recently that US defense officials decided to reduce the stealth demands from F-35 engineers due to an under-estimation of the radar capability of the US's rivals.
Experts like Sweetman are now saying that nations like Russia and China with advanced radar capabilities will be able to spot the jets in flight using specific techniques.
"The F-35 is susceptible to detection by radars operating in the VHF bands of the spectrum," said Sweetman in an analysis in Aviation Week and the Daily Beast. "These are not criticisms of the program but the result of choices by the customer, the Pentagon."
According to Sweetman, the billions of dollars being spent on the F-35 are going toward a stealth aircraft that will need air of special radar jamming equipment just like the older generation of aircraft. Jamming the enemy's radar is just another ability in which the F-35 is lacking said Sweetman.
Lockheed Martin, the producers of the F-35 consider the aircraft to be to have full stealth capabilities, but according to the World Tribune, Sweetman said that engineers placed much greater importance on preventing a missile strike than on the plane's stealth.
Elizabeth Quintana, from the Royal United Services Institute, told the Daily Mail that America's enemies could easily take advantage of the F-35's low stealth abilities.
"Radar technology has advanced with the years, and yes, we should be worried," said Quintana.
"The key question is if the F-35 will be able to launch a missile before it's detected. The Russians are investing huge amounts in radar technology," said Quintana.
When asked how serious the plane's stealth problems really are, Quintana said, "That depends on the challenges we can expect to face. The military claims that there's no reason to invest all that money, and instead they should spend money on tank defenses."
Chinese defense forces however, claim to have the ability to monitor stealth aircraft at a distance of 350 kilometers thanks to a mix of radar technologies unique to China.
The British have been America's main partners in the development of the F-35, the most expensive weapon in the US military arsenal. The Daily Mail reported that the British government invested as much as 2.2 billion dollars in the jet and the defense ministry plans to buy 48 of the F-35s at the cost of 168 million dollars for each unit.
Britain's Ministry of Defense told the Daily Mail that, "The F-35 is the most advanced combat jet in the world and from 2018 it will supply the British military with unparalleled stealth capabilities."
Lockheed Martin responded to the scrutiny saying, "The stealth abilities of the F-35 are unprecedented in military action. Comprehensive analysis and test flights that checked the survival capabilities of the F-35 including stealth capabilities and advanced sensors... demonstrate excellent performance that goes above and beyond the planes of previous generations."