Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) Lahav Division, today inaugurated its wing production line for the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter at its headquarters near Ben Gurion Airport.
The advanced technology production line IAI is scheduled to produce more than four pairs of wings per month and 800 pairs of wings for the F-35 over the next decade, for shipment to Lockheed’s Fort Worth final assembly plant in Texas. The first wings are scheduled for delivery by mid-2015. IAI estimates the deal has a potential value of $2.5 billion over 10-15 years.
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The inauguration was attended by Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon, US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, and F-35 program executive officer Lt Gen Christopher Bogdan.
IAI Chairman Rafi Maor said, “Our partnership with Lockheed Martin in producing sub-assemblies for the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world is strategic for IAI, and constitutes an acknowledgement and expression of faith by Lockheed Martin and the US government in IAI’s capabilities as a global industry leader.
IAI has invested tens of millions of dollars in the production line. In the past, the company has manufactured wings for the Lockheed F-16 and the US Air Force’s Northrop T-38 trainers, among others.
Israel recently agreed to purchase a second batch of 25 F-35s, following a meeting between Ya’alon and US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in Washington. Israel had already agreed to procure 19 F-35s for $2.75 billion, and the Israeli Air Force is making preparations to receive the fighters in 2017 and 2018.