Israel advances communications system for F-35 fleet

Tel Aviv
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Rafael is in the advanced stage of work on the unique communications systems that will be installed in the Lockheed Martin F-35s to be operated by the Israeli air force.

Specific details of the system are highly classified, but the enhancement has been described by one Israeli source as a "big leap in airborne communications".

The equipment will combine some systems that Rafael has developed in recent years, including an airborne datalink system, which the company says provides the ability to accurately process and distribute real-time information to all airborne and ground units and provide total visibility in the theatre of operations. The technology also guarantees reliable, simultaneous, multi-channel voice, data, imagery and video transmissions, it says.

Israel's communications systems for the F-35 will also include elements of Rafael's software-defined communication system. This is designed to enable fast wideband connection between manned aircraft, unmanned air systems and their ground control stations. The equipment will allow the fighter to keep its stealth capabilities in "a variety of fighting modes", says a company source.

Rafael is also adapting some of its air-to-air and air-to-surface weapon system to be carried within the F-35's internal weapons bays.

Israel is due to receive the first of its currently contracted 20 conventional take-off and landing F-35As in 2017.