TEL AVIV (Aug. 12)
An updated version of the Phantom aircraft, which has been in service with the Israel Air Force for some 16 years, was shown to the press on Tuesday.
The updated version of the plane, with new Israeli-developed electronic systems said to be equal to those incorporated in the F-16s just delivered to Israel, is planned to extend the operational life of the Phantom 2000 by some 15-20 years.
The first model of the updated Phantom was test-flown by its Air Force designers for the first time Tuesday. A second prototype will be flown by next March. But the first squadron of improved Phantom 2000s is due for delivery to the Air Force only by the early 1990′s.
Several foreign Air Forces are reported to have shown interest in the updated Phantom. Some 2,000 old-version Phantoms are still flying around the world, and upgrading them may be a cheaper alternative for many countries to buying the next generation of sophisticated fighter aircraft.