The Israel Air Force’s F-15 fleet is undergoing an upgrade, with systems that make it better equipped for complex long distance attack scenarios. The systems are being installed in both the F-15 and the F-15I -- a model of the F-15 that was developed by its U.S. manufacturer specifically for the IAF.
According to IDF journal BaMachaneh, the F-15I model is currently being fitted with two new systems – one called “Barad Pelada” (“Steel Hail”), and another named Lightning.
The Barad Pelada advanced weapons system has been operational in the IAF’s F-16s for almost four years, but had to be modified in order to fit the F-15.
Barad Pelada is an advanced Israeli armament that operates like a smart bomb. “The system is unique in that it is able to plan the bombing in an accurate way by identifying the target from above,” a knowledgeable source in the IAF explained. “After the identification, the system carries out guidance to the target and only then is impact made.”
The Lightning advanced attack system has also been in use in the IAF’s other jets. Until now, the F-15I jets had to rely on the older Inbar system, which used to be fitted in all of the IAF’s jets but was gradually phased out.
The Inbar system is capable of providing an operational solution in some ranges, but other attack scenarios require advanced systems like the Lightning, IAF sources said. “The need for the new system led to an accelerated procedure of development of advanced means,” a source in the IAF’s Weapons Department explained. “Once the testing at the Flight Experiment Center is finished, we will complete the system’s integration in the aircraft.”
A combination of two systems
For the time being, however, the F-15I jets will not part with the older Inbar systems. “From now on, the aircraft will enjoy a combination of both attack systems and will enjoy a meaningful advantage in their operational activity,” the sources said.
The F-15 jets, meanwhile, recently received a new weapon system named “Barad Kaved” (“Heavy Hail”) and used it for the first time during operation “Cast Lead” in Gaza in early 2009. IAF sources said the use was a success. The F-15 fighters used Barad Kaved in attacks with zero malfunctions, and “we are very pleased with its performance in the operation,” the sources said.
Pilots' Course graduation ceremony (Israel news photo: IAF website).
'Sharp as a razor'
“The reelection of Iran’s president, his grave utterances regarding his will to harm the state of Israel and Iran’s continual effort to achieve unconventional weapons require us to maintain an army that is coiled and ready to spring into action, and an Air Force that is skilled and sharp as a razor, that will stand up to any enemy and remove any threat from our citizens and residents,“ IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said Thursday in an IAF ceremony for new pilots at the Hatzerim Air Force Base.