A data shot of Israel’s F-35I All-Purpose King (Adir) stealth fighter. (Tatchee Images/Shutterstock)
It has long been no secret that the Israeli Air Force considers one of the most significant elements when receiving a new fighter aircraft to be its operational range. And because of this, it became the first user to request additional fuel tanks for the F-35s.
According to Aviationist.com, as early as in the system design and development (SDD) phase of this 5th generation fighter, Israel first launched a study on the tailor-made 5th generation fighter F-35I “Almighty” ( Adir), but since 2019, at least on the Internet, no new research has emerged.
Only a few days ago, the Israeli news network Walla reported that the country’s air force is still developing external throwable fuel tanks at the Flight Testing Center (FTC) at Tel Nof air base. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) sources revealed that the development of new external fuel tanks for the F-35I will not take more than two years.
Israel believes that this will help the F-35I in the situation without air refueling, to complete the “third circle” (third circle) away from the country’s long-range combat missions, that is, against Iran and other targets. In addition, the report also mentioned that the F-35I has made significant progress in integrating with Israeli-made missiles.
According to The Times of Israel, the so-called “third circle” refers to the direct threat to Israel. The first ring is small terrorist groups such as Hamas on Israel’s borders, the second ring is larger threats such as Syrian forces and Hezbollah, and the third ring is countries such as Iran and Iraq, which are not adjacent to Israel.
The development of new fuel tanks is the result of a collaborative effort between the Israeli Defense Ministry, Air Force and defense industry to enhance the strategic capabilities of the IDF to deal with the third ring of countries. Since the new external fuel tank can not affect the stealth performance of the F-35 too much, so the related development process is quite tricky, mainly by adjusting the shape and choice of materials to achieve the goal.