via Flightglobal (these guys have been on a roll lately)
Israel will embark on a “deep” upgrade of its Boeing F-15I Ra’am fleet as it looks to maintain the type as the backbone of its air force’s strike capability, despite the parallel acquisition of the Lockheed Martin F-35.When we want to reach far distances with few aircraft and many arms - the F-15I wins.
The enhancement has been mooted for some time, but Tel Aviv has recently given the green light to the programme.
Modifications will include structural changes, the addition of an active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, updated avionics and new, unspecified weapon systems.
A selection process for the radar is ongoing, with a decision due mid-year. It is thought Israel favours the Raytheon APG-82(V)1 radar selected by the US Air Force for its F-15Es.
Lt Col Yiftach, head of the Israeli air force’s aircraft branch, told the service’s website, although some missions will eventually pass to the F-35, the Boeing type will remain a “strategic aircraft”.
"When we want to reach far distances with few aircraft and many arms – the F-15I wins,” he says, noting its “great carrying abilities”.
Drink that statement in.
Despite buying F-35's they're going to do a deep upgrade of the F-15I. We're being told something here, but quite honestly the Israeli LTCOL is being so cagey that I'm missing it.
One thing is certain. The Israeli's won't waste money. If the F-35 is all that we're being told...and they've been to the secret briefings...then they wouldn't waste resources on upgrading an airplane to do a mission that the new puppy in the house could get done.
Oh and I'm definitely not buying that "it'll take a while to integrate weapons onto the F-35 line either. The Israeli's are pros. If the F-35 was seen as being up to snuff then they would bust ass to get the integration done...and done quickly!
I think we're seeing a glimpse of the true capabilities of the F-35. It would appear, if the Israeli Air Force is to be believed, that even in the deep strike role it falls short.