“The F-35 is Critical to Countering Hezbollah’s Rocket Threat”

As the Israeli Air Force is still deciding whether to purchase another squadron of F-35 fighter jets or advanced F-15s, Lockheed Martin chief Marillyn Hewson delivered a keynote address at the Herzliya Conference, praising the advantages of the fifth-generation aircraft and their contribution to Israel’s national security

Marillyn Hewson, Chairman, President and CEO of Lockheed Martin (Photo: Sivan Farag)

“Israel understands that the Mighty One (=’Adir,’ the IAF designation of the F-35) is a game changer, an integrator, and a force multiplier. First and foremost, the F-35 provides game-changing survivability. The F-35 ‘Adir’ can go where no fourth-generation aircraft can go. And it can engage at distances and with accuracy far beyond the reach of legacy aircraft.” These remarks were made by Marillyn Hewson, Chairman, President and CEO of Lockheed Martin, during her speech at the 2019 IDC Herzliya Conference.

“Its combination of speed and stealth capabilities, combined with advanced countermeasures and electronic-attack capabilities, enable the F-35 to overcome increasingly sophisticated defenses and provide an asymmetric impact. The F-35 effectively expands the battlespace and transforms the definition of air dominance. These abilities make the ‘Adir’ more than a deterrent. The ‘Mighty One’ gives senior government and military leaders a decisive strategic tool.

“Another key strength of the F-35 is its role as an integrator. The F-35 has the capability to merge information from its advanced sensors and avionics. And it can fuse information from multiple domains across the battlespace which it then presents to the pilot as intelligible and actionable information.

“One US Marine Corps pilot explained the advantage this provides, saying: ‘The F-35 effectively and seamlessly integrates information to tell me what’s going on around me – and not just from the radio frequency spectrum but laser, infrared, and electro-optical systems. That’s usually the first thing pilots notice when they get in the airplane. They know so much more than they ever knew before.’

“This sensor fusion and data processing is not limited to the Adir’s pilot. The F-35 can serve as a central node in contested battlespace directing other assets, enhancing communication, and enabling cooperative efforts to eliminate threats. This makes the F-35 an unrivalled force multiplier. Because of its ability to share the information it gathers, the F-35 gives a clearer picture of the battlespace in the air, at sea, and on the ground enabling faster decision making.

“In addition, the F-35’s ability to integrate and work with other systems also gives it greater potential as threats evolve and new technologies arrive in the battlespace. For instance, the F-35 has already proven its value as an elevated sensor for coordinating advanced air and missile defense systems. And with C4I technology integrated into the ‘Adir’ fighters, the F-35 is particularly critical to countering Hezbollah’s vast rocket threat through rapid identification and prioritization of targets for the IAF.

“Finally, the F-35 has shown the flexibility the IAF and the IDF have prized and maximized throughout their history. Missions traditionally performed by specialized aircraft air-to-air combat, air-to-ground strikes, electronic attack, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance can now be executed by a squadron of F-35s.

“In the early phases of a conflict, F-35s can fly as the first fighters to penetrate contested airspace and destroy multiple air and ground threats. This then clears the way for the F-35 to enter the battlespace carrying up to 18,000 pounds of internal and external ordnance, in a mix that can include 5,000-pound-class weapons and beyond.

“In short, nothing equals the F-35 ‘Adir’ in providing information and options in the modern Israeli battlespace. The F-35 takes the world of multi-domain threats and harnesses the multi-domain assets of the IDF to protect lives. This creates a collective umbrella that enables the Israeli people to walk the streets of Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem in safety and security.

“At Lockheed Martin, we know that the true strength of the IDF lies in its brave men and women. In visit after visit to Israel, I am always inspired and always moved by how deeply the people of Israel mourn the loss of every individual life. There is a spirit and a sense of community that is unique to the State of Israel.”