Israel declares F-35 war jets 'operational'

Lester Mason
December 7, 2017

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) declared its squadron of F-35 stealth fighter jets operational yesterday, less than a year after receiving the first aircraft.

Air Force chief Maj.

The Israeli air force is the only air force, beyond the United States Armed Forces, that operates the Adir aircraft.

In a letter sent by Air Force Commander Major-General Amikam Norkin to the Air Force, he wrote: "The declaration of the operational capability of the squadron takes place at a time when the Air Force is operating extensively on a number of fronts, in a changing Middle East". The American pilots that come to us didn't experience that because they fly there, in Arizona, in Florida.

The IAF has received nine F-35s so far, with the most recent pair of aircraft delivered in November.

The Israeli Air Force now has nine jets out of the total of 50 it has agreed to buy.

Made by US-based Lockheed Martin, the Jets are the most expensive in history, with the first 33 sold to Israel at an average of about $110 million each.

Israel has agreed to purchase 50 F-35 fighters in total from the United States.

Israel was the first country outside of the USA to receive the F-35, and it championed the aircraft after it was criticized for the slow production process, high price and numerous setbacks during its development. The remaining 41 planes will be delivered in installments of twos and threes over the coming years. The delivery is slated to be completed by 2021. A second batch of 17 airplanes that was ordered later is set to arrive by December 2024, the Defense Ministry said.

An agreement between Israel and the USA written into the U.S. legal code, specifically as part of the Arms Export Control Act, states that the U.S. may not sell "defense articles or services" to Middle East nations that "adversely affect Israel's qualitative military edge".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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