The F-35 Lightning II is a fifth-generation stealth fighter jet with cutting-edge capabilities that have made it the most sought-after fighter jet in the world. The first country to receive the advanced stealthy fighter jet outside the US was one of its most essential and strategically-placed allies, Israel.
In March 2022, three F-35 fighter jets from the United States arrived at Israel’s Nevatim Air Base, raising the nation’s total number of these fighter jets to 33. Israel will get an additional 17 F-35 aircraft by 2024, bringing the total number to 50 in its air fleet.
For a long time, Israel was trying to get the United States to allow the acquisition of KC-46A refuelers that would enhance its range if it decided to bomb Iran. However, despite delays and Washington’s apparent hesitation, Israel reportedly extended the range of its F-35 stealth fighter jets to fly to Iran without needing mid-air refueling.
In the latest update, Israel’s defense contractor Rafael unveiled a new missile, a development that could add more teeth to the F-35 fighter jets. On July 18, the fifth-generation Ice Breaker cruise missile debuted amid the UK’s sweltering Farnborough International Air Show.
Although the missile, which has a 120-kilogram warhead, is essentially the same weapon as the naval and land-launched Sea Breaker missile, it is built with even high survivability.
Yuval Miller, EVP, and GM of Rafael Air and C4I, said in an interview that the missile was produced using the Israeli company’s significant missile development experience.
Israel's Rafael unveils a new missile for the Farnborough air show. It calls it the Ice Breaker, a "5th Generation, Air-Launched Long-Range Attack Weapon System."
Image (courtesy Rafael) pic.twitter.com/ybPECQxor4
— Seth Frantzman (@sfrantzman) July 12, 2022
This unveiling came a year after the debut of the Sea Breaker, which serves as the all-encompassing Ice Breaker on land and at sea. The Ice Breaker delivers a broad range of commonality, combining now across all domains with improved capabilities, in addition to the land and naval platform application.
According to a press release from Rafael, Ice Breaker is an airborne force multiplier created to meet the demands of modern conflict. It is resistant to electronic defenses and works flawlessly in GNSS-denied arenas.
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The missile system has passive imaging infrared seeker capabilities that allow for automated target recognition. According to Yuval Miller, the weapons’ targeting system could be set up to choose where to strike a target to produce desired results.
The fully composite airframe of Ice Breaker is lightweight to maximize integration possibilities. An F-16 can carry up to four missiles, while an F-15 can carry up to seven.
Miller continued by saying that the weapon could also be added to the F-35, the most powerful fighter jet in the Israeli Air Force.
The manufacturer of Ice Breaker, Rafael, claimed that the cruise missile with a 300 kilometers range provides standoff-range precision strike capabilities against stationary or moving targets besides maritime targets in Anti- Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) bubbles.
This would potentially allow the Jewish nation to combat threats faced by non-state actors and adversaries in the region.
The highly survivable design of the subsonic Ice Breaker incorporates several aspects, including low-altitude flight capabilities and an integrated mission planning system. The possibility that the weapon will hit the intended target increases when the missile’s flight path may be planned in response to potential threats.
It is fully functional in all-weather circumstances and compatible with various airborne platforms, including jet fighters, light aircraft, and helicopters. The missile’s datalink allows for mid-flight aborts, Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) capabilities, real-time tactical updates, and man-in-the-loop decision-making.
Ice Breaker provides deep learning and big data-based scene-matching using RAFAEL’s unique artificial intelligence technology, enabling Automatic Target Acquisition (ATA) and Automatic Target Recognition (ATR).
With a multi-directional, coordinated complete sphere attack capability based on predetermined assault plans, according to waypoints, azimuth, impact angle, and aim-point selection, Ice Breaker has a high probability of mission success while flying at high subsonic speeds.
According to Rafael, the missile is immune to electronic defenses and is capable of operating in situations without GNSS. However, when asked about this missile’s present or future buyers, Miller declined to comment. Israel has recently forged close military relationships with Gulf-Arab countries.
There have been reports of normalization in ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia at a time when Israel has been in talks with the United States and other countries in the Gulf-Arab region to cobble together a regional air defense alliance in the Middle East to deter and isolate Iran.
As the threats to its security multiply, Israel could be expected to do whatever it takes to draw a security blanket- with defensive and offensive capabilities.
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- With Inputs By Girish Linganna
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