Israeli Firms Seek Role in Lockheed's New Fighter-jet Project

Defense Min. urging U.S. manufacturer to subcontract work on F-35 jets to Israel; IAF orders 25 planes.

The Defense Ministry is urging the American aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin to subcontract work on the future F-35 jet fighter to Israeli companies, including the Israel Aerospace Industries, the Israel Military Industries and Rafael.

The Israeli companies could build parts for the plane, electronic systems and so forth.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 is a future fifth-generation, single-pilot stealth fighter. Israel wants 75 of the beasts: The Air Force has ordered 25 and has an option to order 50 more. The cost of the 75 jets would come to about $10 billion. In parallel with trying to persuade Lockheed to work with the Israeli companies, Defense is trying to persuade it to lower the price.

Lockheed has been working on the new-generation jets for the U.S. armed forces. The fighter would be invisible to radar and have special warfare capabilities.

Elbit Systems won the contract to make advanced helmets for pilots of these planes, and has contracts in place to sell hundreds of units to the U.S.

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