Why Only Israel Can Customize America’s F-35 (At Least For Now)

F-35 at MCAS Beaufort on March 7, 2016 in Beaufort, North Carolina.
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

Wired reports: Any big-ticket military technology purchased from the US comes with rules. Big stacks of strict guidelines outline exactly what allies can do to the hardware and the systems that run it. Generally, it comes down to: nothing.

No modifications, no additions, no deletions. You can’t even make repairs without written consent from the Pentagon.

Uncle Sam typically responds to such requests with a resounding no, especially when the hardware in question is the wildly advanced (and wildly over budget) F-35 Lightning II Joint Striker Fighter. The stealth fighter jet, which Lockheed Martin is selling to US allies, comes with caveats that expressly prohibit unauthorized tinkering and a requirement that only US-run facilities service the plane.

These rules, designed to protect deeply intertwined systems and maintain the security of sensitive technology, are non-negotiable.

Unless you are Israel.

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