35 Israeli F-35s Proving Exceptional Performance Against Hamas Following U.S. Capability Boost: Top U.S. Official

Israel received updated mission data files within a week or week and a half after Hamas' attack in October
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 06:28 AM, December 14, 2023
  • 1270
35 Israeli F-35s Proving Exceptional Performance Against Hamas Following U.S. Capability Boost: Top U.S. Official
F-35's first ever intercept of a cruise missile @Israel Air Force

In response to the October 7th attack by Hamas, the U.S. swiftly enhanced the capabilities of Israel's F-35 fighters, according to Lt. Gen. Michael Schmidt, the program executive officer for the F-35.

While specific details about the upgraded capabilities were not disclosed, Schmidt emphasized the program's commitment to supplying spare parts and enhancements to all nations operating the F-35.

Speaking after a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, Schmidt confirmed that the improvements were expedited to Israel after the deadly Hamas attack, resulting in at least 1,200 casualties.

Bill LaPlante, the U.S. undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, highlighted the F-35 program's ability to swiftly update mission data files, crucial for the jet's combat operations.

35 Israeli F-35s Proving Exceptional Performance Against Hamas Following U.S. Capability Boost: Top U.S. Official
IAF F-35I "Adir" fighter

LaPlante revealed that Israel received updated mission data files within a week or week and a half, describing these files as a critical component containing the jet's memory of potential threats during operations. Despite acknowledging that the F-35 program still has progress to make in this aspect, LaPlante expressed optimism, indicating that the recent accelerated updates would inform improvements across the entire program.

In written remarks, LaPlante disclosed that Israel currently operates 35 out of its 39 F-35s, actively engaging in missions with increased sustainment support to enhance aircraft readiness.

Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., the subcommittee's chairman, commended the F-35 Joint Program Office for its swift response, noting the accelerated enhancement of weapons capabilities and the influx of spare parts to support Israel's efforts against Hamas.

According to Schmidt, Israel's F-35s have demonstrated "absolutely outstanding" performance in the ongoing conflict with Hamas, achieving high mission success rates. He emphasized the rapid addition of capabilities to the aircraft, highlighting the continuous efforts of the team to advance the F-35 program's effectiveness in supporting Israel's objectives.

In late October, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) achieved a milestone as it released a video showcasing the F-35's first-ever air-to-air kill of a cruise missile. The incident was revealed through the video released in early November. While the IAF did not specify the location or the number of F-35I "Adirs" involved, it confirmed that jets from the Adir formation intercepted a cruise missile during the reported time frame. Although details about the specific type of cruise missile intercepted were not provided, it is likely a variant of the Quds cruise missiles, previously supplied to the Houthis by Iran.

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