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Lockheed's F-35 in flight -- image courtesy Lockheed Martin
The F-35 Lightning II makes its maiden flight

Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II single-seat fighter made its maiden flight this past Friday. The F-35 is the production version of the X-35 Joint Strike Fighter prototype which was selected over the competing Boeing X-32.

The flight marked the culmination of a five-year gestation period and was for the most part successful. "The Lightning II performed beautifully," said F-35 Chief Pilot Jon Beesley. The flight was scheduled to last an hour, but was ended after just 38 minutes. An in-flight glitch took place in which an air data probe flashed a warning in the cockpit. As a result, “gear-up" testing was not performed during the flight. "We designed the aircraft with redundancy so if one of the sensors is out we can fly with the other one. That part worked just fine," said Beesley.

There will be three distinct versions of the plane in the $276.6 billion USD program. Prices will range from $45 million USD per plane for the F-35A to $60 million per plane for the F-35C.

The F-35A is the smallest/lightest of the bunch and will be put into service by the US Air Force. It is destined to replace the F-16 and A-10 (oh how we will miss the GAU-8/A Avenger). The F-35B is the STOVL variant which will replace the AV-8 Harrier currently in service with the US Marine Corps. The F-35C will be used by the US Navy where it will replace the F-18A/B/C/D.

The United States is currently partnered with Australia, Great Britain, Canada, Denmark, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway and Turkey on the F-35 program. Other countries including Israel and Singapore are also interested in the F-35 program.

Given all the news surrounding the success of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), it would be interesting to see if Lockheed's proposed pilot-less variant of the F-35 will ever see the light of day -- if only in prototype form.

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RE: A-10 RIP
By masher2 on 12/18/2006 1:22:20 PM , Rating: 4
We're not selling the plane to anyone we're likely to be fighting soon. As for the longer-term, the recipient is going to depend on us for parts and maintenance in any case, so the risk is minor.

RE: A-10 RIP
By KristopherKubicki on 12/18/2006 2:05:44 PM , Rating: 5
It appears as though Israel will also purchase several F-35s. While I do not think the U.S. and Israel will be fighting each other any time soon, Israel has a nasty habit of selling U.S. tech to countries that are not supposed to have such tech. Much military tech that we sell to Israel has also been copied and repackaged as an Israeli weapon system.

I find this appalling, but apparently this has already been discussed and figured out within the project leaders.

For more reading, please look up histories of the:
* The Israeli F-10 Lavi
* The Israeli Phalcon Radar
* The Chinese PL-8 missile
* The Israeli Python 3 missile buyers

.. And I am not even going to touch on the number of weapon systems that have gone from the U.S. to Israel to China to Iran.

RE: A-10 RIP
By DigitalFreak on 12/18/2006 3:01:56 PM , Rating: 3
Where's the DMCA when you need it? :-)

RE: A-10 RIP
By Chillin1248 on 12/18/2006 3:37:08 PM , Rating: 4
As an Israeli I would like to point out several errors/mis-understandings in your article:

1)- The "Lavi" - This plane was to be designed by Israel but built with U.S. parts under the U.S. FMS. However it not only exceeded its budget (1.3 Billion Dollars), but it also [the two prototypes that were built] outperformed and were cheaper than the F-16;as well threathen the export market for the F-18 as well. That was a threat to standard U.S. exports, not just to other countries, but to Israel as well which might unbalance U.S. influence in the region.

2)- IAI Phalcon 707 AEWC&C - A Israeli designed and produced system. It was a cooperation between IAI and Raytheon (name should sound familiar as they work closely with Israeli weapons specialists and have made lots of news with their Anti-Missile laser). Whoever Israel sells the system to is her business, just as Israel doesn't complain when U.S. does its own business of selling F-15s to Saudia Arabia and F-16 to Egypt and Pakistan. Israel planned/plans to mount the Radar system on Chinese Il-76 aircraft.

3)- RAFAEL Shafrir 3 - This missile is licensed built by China as the PL-8 missile, Israel does not supply the weapons and it is a Chinese that was originally Israeli, no different than the J-xx series of aircraft modeled on the Russian MiG aircraft. A country has a right to export natively produced and designed weapons without another country telling them where they can sell it.

If it is beneficial to Israel to sell it to China, then Israel has the full sovereign right to sell it; no matter how much it may inconvenience the U.S. . Obviously the U.S. giving over $3 BILLION dollars each year in FMS to Saudia Arabia (it gives roughly only $2.15 Billion FMS to Israel, and these may not be used in any "Disputed Territory"; it gives Egypt roughly $2 Billion) inconvenience Israel a lot more than a obsolete 1970s AAM.

Now I assume we all know about the Iran contra affair, U.S. ordered Israel to give the weapons to Iran.

In summer 1985, Michael Ledeen, a consultant of Robert McFarlane, asked Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres for help in the sale of arms to Iran. The Israeli government required that the sale of arms meet the approval of the United States government , and when it was convinced that the U.S. government approved the sale by Robert McFarlane, Israel obliged by agreeing to sell the arms. In July 1985, Israel sent American-made BGM-71 TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided) anti-tank missiles. Reverend Benjamin Weir was subsequently released; despite the fact that arms were being sold to Iran, only Weir was released. This resulted in the failure of Ledeen's plan with only three shipments through Israel.

RE: A-10 RIP
By masher2 on 12/18/2006 4:01:42 PM , Rating: 5
> "If it is beneficial to Israel to sell it to China, then Israel has the full sovereign right to sell it; no matter how much it may inconvenience the U.S..."

Not when Israel received US technology specifically with the agreement to not resell those weapon systems. Furthermore, given the massive, unprecedented levels of direct aid the US showers upon Israel (well over $100B, or more than $23,000 for each and every Israeli citizen), indirect aid and protection, and support for Israeli policies (the US is very often the lone veto in UN resolutions against Israel), it behooves Israel to repay some of those favors.

In short, allies should be allies...and on the subject of technology transfers and weapons proliferation, Israel has been a very poor ally indeed.

RE: A-10 RIP
By Chillin1248 on 12/18/2006 5:06:23 PM , Rating: 3
Israel has long ago repayed its debt to the U.S.. During the Cold War it was Israel who gave the U.S. engineers a look inside not only every Soviet tank system up through the T-62 (and perhaps the T-72 though I am not sure about that one). It gave the U.S. their first look inside the MiG-21, a plane that caused F4 Phantom II pilots much fear. Not to mention what information the Mossad has given the NSA. And of course what better a testing ground for new U.S. weapons than Israel which is forced to constantly use them. Remember U.S. will not do anything unless it furthers their own interests as well.

Now it is not even near 100 Billion dollars in aid. Before 1971 the entire amount was only roughly $1.95 Billion USD.

From 1949 through 1965, U.S. aid to Israel averaged about $63 million per year, over 95% of which was economic development assistance and food aid. A modest military loan program began in 1959. From 1966 through 1970, average aid per year increased to about $102 million, but military loans
increased to about 47% of the total. From 1971 to the present, U.S. aid to Israel has averaged over $2 billion per year, two-thirds of which has been military assistance.

Now the Phalcon Radar system, as far as the information I can dig up on it, is a entirely Israeli designed and produced system called ELTA. They are not using any U.S. planes to mount it on when selling to China. I do not see how they are breaking any laws.

Now about the U.N. It is the same U.N. that voted that the basis Israel was founded on, Zionism, was racist... And then in 1991 said it was not. For amusements sake decided to look up who sits/sat on the Human Right Council and Security Council? Most people in this region don't give two hoots what the U.N. says or does. This is what the U.N. is known to do in this region and it is why many do not care for it:

Now after watching the first part of the second video (the end of the video is not relevant to the discussion at hand) please read the following on Hamas:


RE: A-10 RIP
By Chillin1248 on 12/18/2006 5:31:19 PM , Rating: 1
Here is another case of U.N. misconduct:

UNIFIL's most notorious collaboration with terrorists involved the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli soldiers, and the subsequent cover-up.

On October 7, 2000, Hezbollah terrorists entered Israel, attacked three Israeli soldiers on Mount Dov, and abducted them Lebanon. The kidnapping was witnessed by several dozen UNIFIL soldiers who stood idle. One of the soldier witnesses described the kidnapping: the terrorists set of an explosive which stunned the Israeli soldiers. Clad in UN uniforms, the terrorists called out, "Come, come, we’ll help you."

The Israeli soldiers approached the men in UN uniforms. Then, a Hezbollah bomb detonated—-apparently prematurely. It wounded the disguised Hezbollah commander, and three Israeli soldiers.

Two other terrorists in U.N. uniforms dragged their Hezbollah commander and the three wounded soldiers into a getaway car.

According an Indian solider in UNIFIL who witnessed the kidnapping, "By this stage, there was a big commotion and dozens of UN soldiers from the Indian brigade came around." The witness stated that the brigade knew that the kidnappers in UN uniform were Hezbollah. One soldiers said that the brigade should arrest the Hezbollah, but the brigade did nothing.

According to the Indian soldier, the UNFIL brigade in the area "could have prevented the kidnapping."


RE: A-10 RIP
By Chillin1248 on 12/18/2006 5:44:04 PM , Rating: 1
And finally, the last one on the U.N.:


"The United States has always supported Israel at the UN and can be counted upon to veto any resolutions that are critical."


Many people believe the United States can always be relied upon to support Israel with its veto in the UN Security Council. The historical record, however, shows that the U.S. has often opposed Israel in the Council.

In 1990, for example, Washington voted for a Security Council resolution condemning Israel's handling of the Temple Mount riot earlier that month. While singling out “the acts of violence committed by Israeli security forces,” the resolution omitted mention of the Arab violence that preceded it.

In December 1990, the U.S. went along with condemning Israel for expelling four leaders of Hamas, an Islamic terrorist group. The deportations came in response to numerous crimes committed by Hamas against Arabs and Jews, the most recent of which had been the murders of three Israeli civilians in a Jaffa factory several days earlier. The resolution did not say a word about Hamas and its crimes. It described Jerusalem as “occupied” territory, declared that Palestinians needed to be “protected” from Israel and called on contracting parties of the Geneva Convention to ensure Israel's compliance. It was the first time the Security Council invoked the Convention against a member country.

In January 1992, the U.S. supported a one-sided resolution condemning Israel for expelling 12 Palestinians, members of terrorist groups that were responsible for perpetrating violence against Arab and Jew alike. The resolution, which described Jerusalem as “occupied” territory, made no mention of the events that triggered the expulsions — the murders of four Jewish civilians by Palestinian radicals since October.

In 1996, the U.S. went along with a Saudi-inspired condemnation of Israel for opening a tunnel in "the vicinity" of the al-Aksa mosque. In fact, the tunnel, which allows visitors to see the length of the western wall of the Temple Mount, is nowhere near the mosque. Israel was blamed for reacting to violent attacks by Palestinians who protested the opening of the tunnel.

The United States did not cast its first veto until 1972, on a Syrian-Lebanese complaint against Israel. From 1967-72, the U.S. supported or abstained on 24 resolutions, most critical of Israel. From 1973-2003, the Security Council adopted approximately 100 resolutions on the Middle East, again, most critical of Israel. The U.S. vetoed a total of 37 resolutions and, hence, supported the Council's criticism of Israel by its vote of support, or by abstaining, roughly two-thirds of the time.12

In July 2002, the United States shifted its policy and announced that it would veto any Security Council resolution on the Middle East that did not condemn Palestinian terror and name, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade as the groups responsible for the attacks. The U.S. also said that resolutions must note that any Israeli withdrawal is linked to the security situation, and that both parties must be called upon to pursue a negotiated settlement (Washington Post, July 26, 2002). The Arabs can still get around the United States by taking issues to the General Assembly, where nonbinding resolutions pass by majority vote, and support for almost any anti-Israel resolution is assured.


RE: A-10 RIP
By masher2 on 12/18/2006 6:00:59 PM , Rating: 1
> "The historical record, however, shows that the U.S. has often opposed Israel in the Council. "

So you feel that, because the US has occasionally (and rarely) didn't stand in lockstep with Israeli interests in the UN, that this somehow invalidates my statement? What sort of strange logic is this?

The fact remains. The US is Israeli's strongest supporter outside its own borders, and has been on countless occasions the sole veto between Israel and UN action against it.

RE: A-10 RIP
By WhiteBoyFunk on 12/19/2006 12:23:22 PM , Rating: 2
US Misconduct? I sure hope this guy doesn't physically live in the US.

RE: A-10 RIP
By WhiteBoyFunk on 12/19/2006 12:32:48 PM , Rating: 2
Rescrolled and noticed Chillin is from Israel. Cool how when things go wrong it's our fault. I suppose the Cole's downfall is fault of those from Yemen, and bombing of the Khobar Towers fault of the Saudi's. Sometimes I don't understand why we help anyone when all they do is whine about certain things and conveniently overlook the overall good we do.

RE: A-10 RIP
By mindless1 on 12/24/2006 7:02:36 PM , Rating: 2
Without question some things are the US' fault. You don't get to be a superpower without stepping on some toes.

There is no innocent government and finger pointing based on the past, only perpetuates the mistakes of the past. Only when governments stop taking the "us" and "them" attitude, will this change. Remember that particularly in the US, it's all about media spin, special interest groups, big money. Oppose something if it garners you supporters, then move on finding the next thing to point your finger at, hoping that by making others look bad, you make yourself look better. Unfortunately this behavior is intermixed with sincere and legitimate efforts.

That is not to imply the US is bad, or worse, only that nationalism is contradictory to humanism across borders.

RE: A-10 RIP
By masher2 on 12/18/2006 6:16:31 PM , Rating: 4
> "Israel has long ago repayed its debt to the U.S..."

So you feel that Israel has repaid over $100 billion in direct aid, plus hundreds more in indirect aid, not to mention priceless access to the most advanced US defense technology...all just by giving the US a few looks inside some outmoded Soviet weaponry?

And my figures are correct. As of 1997, the total cost of US direct aid to Israel has been $134,791,507,200. That doesn't count aid in the decade since then, nor indirect aid or indirect costs incurred from supporting Israeli policiies.

RE: A-10 RIP
By rushfan2006 on 12/19/2006 10:04:55 AM , Rating: 1
Since 1997.....$137 billion to Israel...

Hmm...interesting in a fraction of that time we have DOUBLED that amount spent on Iraq....

And surely THAT is a worthwhile expense to US taxpayers. /sarcasm.

RE: A-10 RIP
By masher2 on 12/19/2006 10:17:19 AM , Rating: 2
As I pointed out, that's only the costs up to 1997, and ignores all charges since then, as well as any and all incidental costs. Given that support for Israel is one of the primary motivators for Middle-East discontent with the US, one could build a case that the cost of entire Afghan and Iraqi military efforts (as well as losses from 9/11 itself) were all indirect costs of our support of Israel.

RE: A-10 RIP
By KristopherKubicki on 12/18/2006 4:36:19 PM , Rating: 2
Please do not confuse my personal opinion in the comments with what is reported in the article.

I think you raise interesting points - the U.S. shouldn't be selling technology in the region either. However, the thing that still concerns me is that some of these weapon systems being sold to China, then later to Iran, have the possibility of being used against Israel. China isn't the only backdoor either: recently weapons sold to Eastern Europe have ended up in the Middle East, weapons sold to Russia have ended up in Libya, weapons sold to Argentina have ended up in Colombia. None of these are particularly U.S. OR Israeli-friendly places right now and such propagation should be a unilateral concern.

I have been moderating you up by the way: you have strong arguments even though they are not popular.

RE: A-10 RIP
By Chillin1248 on 12/18/2006 5:11:22 PM , Rating: 5
Of course.

I also agree with you that the weapons have a interesting way of being used against us, and I personally do not advocate selling these weapons to questionable countries. However from a political viewpoint I do not see how to condemn Israel for doing so.

Best example I can figure for American supplied, Israeli weapons being used against Israel is when during the "Road Map" period Israel, under a U.S. request, gave the PA roughly 10,000 M-16 rifles and over 3 Million rounds of M1193 5.56mm NATO round ammunition that was supposed to go the PA security forces. Not two weeks later the guns were already responsible for a attack on a Israeli civilian which severely wounded him.

I also thank you for the moderation of course, but I would hope people would take arguements at face value sometimes without bias.


RE: A-10 RIP
By Fnoob on 12/19/2006 10:58:01 PM , Rating: 2
Osama Bin Laden ? We created that weapons system...

"propagation should be a unilateral concern."

RE: A-10 RIP
By Martin Blank on 12/20/2006 6:30:46 PM , Rating: 2
No, we didn't. I wish people would learn this point. Osama bin Laden financed his own network entirely with his own money that he inherited as a member of one of the wealthiest families in the Middle East. He despised even suggestions of taking help from the West, and was known to execute Westerners on-sight. Hence, he was barely known during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan,

The mujahideen was made up of several groups fighting the Soviets. Don't think that providing assistance to a few means providing assistance to all.

RE: A-10 RIP
By dubldwn on 12/18/2006 5:03:00 PM , Rating: 2
Being an Israeli yourself, and with statements like,
If it is beneficial to Israel to sell it to China, then Israel has the full sovereign right to sell it; no matter how much it may inconvenience the U.S.

maybe it really is time for Israel to be more independent. I know there's some talk in Israel of declining future military aid, and other's perception that you're around because you're under our protection might no longer be in your interest. If you feel you can go it alone, have at it. But right now, if it's not convenient for us, then you shouldn't do it. To be sure, if it's not convenient for YOU, then WE'RE not doing it.

RE: A-10 RIP
By Chillin1248 on 12/18/2006 5:15:36 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that the U.S. has a very good stranglehold on the region in terms of military balance. If Israel would quit U.S. FMS right now then Egypt and Saudia Arabia would then have numerous arms not available to Israel. If the U.S. would moderate some more its weapon expenditures in the region then there may be a chance for more independence from FMS, but then again that would weaken U.S. in the region.

I will see if I can find the list again showing an idea of what Egypt gets from the U.S. on a average year, list is accurate down to the amount of empty clips shipped.


RE: A-10 RIP
By dubldwn on 12/18/2006 5:38:41 PM , Rating: 2
If Israel would quit U.S. FMS right now then Egypt and Saudia Arabia would then have numerous arms not available to Israel.

I'm not suggesting Israel quit the U.S. FMS, I'm suggesting that Israel not transfer sensitive technology (I recognize you're disputing that) or make decisions without considering the negative affects they could have on our standing in the region.

If the U.S. would moderate some more its weapon expenditures in the region then there may be a chance for more independence from FMS, but then again that would weaken U.S. in the region.

That's right - others using our weapons definitly gives us leverage. But engaging in an arms race is a decision the region makes. Others are willing to sell weapons, it's just that ours (and yours) are very competive. Come on man, Saudi Arabia could have F-22's, F-35's, F-100's whatever your pilots would blow them out of the sky. Military balance. Please.

I will see if I can find the list again showing an idea of what Egypt gets from the U.S. on a average year, list is accurate down to the amount of empty clips shipped.

My only response to this is I'm glad the U.S. continues to meet the defence needs of Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

RE: A-10 RIP
By Chillin1248 on 12/18/2006 6:02:44 PM , Rating: 2
Here is the list I promised you:


RE: A-10 RIP
By dubldwn on 12/18/2006 6:15:36 PM , Rating: 2
um, you sent me the one for Israel by mistake. Oh, and by the way, do you really need 52 more F-16's?

RE: A-10 RIP
By Chillin1248 on 12/18/2006 3:39:35 PM , Rating: 2
Also I want to add how weapon exports from the U.S. work in this region. Israel gets the F-35 on Sunday, Saudia Arabia gets it on Monday and Egypt gets it on Tuesday. Courtesy of U.S. Regional policies.


RE: A-10 RIP
By Wwhat on 12/18/2006 5:10:46 PM , Rating: 2
Ha, worried about israel and in the meantime I see turkey is in the JSF team, I say no more.

RE: A-10 RIP
By Wwhat on 12/18/2006 5:16:33 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah damn israel so loves iran, always helping them...

RE: A-10 RIP
By Chillin1248 on 12/18/2006 5:22:39 PM , Rating: 2
There was a time that Iran was just as Westernized as Israel during the Shah's reign. Hence the reason that Iran has over 70 F-14 Tomcats delivered by the U.S., though few today are in flying condition.


RE: A-10 RIP
By AMDfreak on 12/18/2006 3:31:54 PM , Rating: 1
That's exactly right. Saddam had a number of F-15's, but they never flew against us because Iraq couldn't buy parts to maintain them.

RE: A-10 RIP
By Martin Blank on 12/18/2006 4:42:17 PM , Rating: 2
Iraq never had a single F-15 in its inventory. The Iraqi air forces consisted mostly of Soviet aircraft -- lots of MiGs and Sukhois, and even a few Chinese planes (copies of Soviet craft), but no US fighters. In fact, as of 1990, there were no US-made aircraft at all out of an inventory of more than 1000 total aircraft. The only non-US operators of the F-15 are Israel (1977), Japan (1981), and Saudi Arabia (1981).

If there's any accuracy at all to your statement, it's a misplacement of the F-14s flown by the Iranian air force. After the overthrow of the Shah, the trade embargo prevented Iran from getting any new parts from Grumman for its Tomcats. They turned to cannibalizing less-functioning planes to keep a few in the air, but eventually even that left them short of parts. There have been rumors that the domestic aircraft industry has succeeded in building proper parts, but their true combat capability is in question.

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