Israeli Air Force Declares First Fleet of F-35 Stealth Fighter Jets Fully Operational
JNS.org – Less than a year after receiving its first nine F-35 stealth fighter jets from the US, the IDF declared the fleet of aircraft fully operational on Wednesday.
“The announcement of the operationalization of the ‘Adir’ aircraft comes at a time in which the IAF is operating on a large scale on a number of fronts in a dynamic Middle East,” Israeli Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said in a statement.
Israel has agreed to purchase 50 of the F-35 jets from the US and was the first foreign country permitted to acquire the planes, at a cost of roughly $100 million each.
The remaining 41 jets will be delivered in multiple installments during the next several years. The delivery is slated to be completed by 2021.
Following the original agreement to purchase 50 warplanes, Israel’s Defense Ministry in August finalized the acquisition of 17 additional F-35 stealth fighter jets from the US. The delivery of those jets is expected by December 2024.
The defense industries in both countries cooperated in the production and development of the F-35. Israel Aerospace Industries produces wings for Lockheed Martin’s F-35A jets and Israel’s Elbit Systems produces cutting-edge helmets for the planes, giving pilots the benefit of 360-degree views through cockpits.
The F-35s are widely viewed as the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft and have the capability to counter the most sophisticated air defense systems, such as the Russian S-300 and S-400 surface-to-air missiles.