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December 6, 2017 1:38 pm

Israeli Air Force Declares First Fleet of F-35 Stealth Fighter Jets Fully Operational

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An Israeli Air Force F-35 “Adir” fighter jet. Photo: Major Ofer / Israeli Air Force. – 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.

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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.

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