On Wednesday, the Jerusalem Post reported that Israel made "dramatic" upgrades to its military arsenal to prepare for a future strike against Iran's nuclear capabilities. The new development will see the nation's F-35s fly from their native country to the Islamic Republic without requiring mid-air refueling.
Integrating a one-ton bomb
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) also announced it recently integrated a new one-ton bomb (which implies a weapon weighing around 1,000 kilograms or just over 2,200 pounds) into the arsenal of weapons used by the F-35s. This particular model can be carried inside the plane's internal weapons compartment without jeopardizing its stealth radar signature.
The new weapon is described as being "autonomous and protected against jamming and electronic warfare systems" and was allegedly tested in trials by the IAF, whose results were shared with Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz.
Other weaponry planned specifically for Israel's F-35 fleet includes the Rafael SPICE precision-guided bomb, air-to-air missiles, and possibly a version of the 2,000-pound SPICE 2000 tailored for internal carriage. This last weapon is presumed to be the novel weapon the IAF mentioned in the article.
All these developments are undertaken to make the planes more flexible and more survivable. The country has been hard at work trying to design the aircraft that will lead its next fight against Iran or simply protect the nation from incoming attacks.
According to AviationWeek, Israeli Aerospace Industries and Cyclone, a subsidiary of Israeli firm Elbit Systems, have worked on both a conformal tank design for the F-35 and the 600-gallon drop tank.
In the meantime, the IAF has been busy in the last month, holding four large-scale drills simulating attacks against Iran. The first drill saw Israeli aircraft tackle Iranian radar and detection systems, like those which protect the Islamic Republic's nuclear installations.
The second was an exercise in long-range combat flights – in this case to destinations in Europe. And the other two drills saw the use of defensive measures against cyber weapons and electronic warfare systems.
Cooperation of air fighters from different generations
The tests also saw the IAF drill cooperation between fifth-generation fighter jets like the F-35 and fourth-generation jets like Israel's older model F15s and F-16s. During the practice runs, the planes practiced sharing intelligence, missions, and more despite being fighters from different generations.
A defense official said the country was preparing for offensive attacks.
"Iran's surface-to-air missile systems and radars are crowded, and they are not the only challenge," he told the Jerusalem Post. "We need to be able to attack targets that are significant, and the attack needs to be able to cause extensive damage. There are multiple targets in Iran at different ranges."