IAF says its F-35 stealth fighter jets fully operational

Lockheed Martin unveils Israel’s first F-35 fighter jet in Fort Worth Texas

(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 aircrafts fully operational Wednesday.

Air Force chief Maj.

The timing of the new stealth craft's addition couldn't be better, as Israel's air force "is operating on a large scale on a number of fronts in a dynamic Middle East", the general added. Gen. Amikam Norkin said the F-35 jets, known in Israel as the "Adir", or mighty one, will give Israel new capabilities that are necessary in confronting the "constantly evolving and complex challenges" in the Middle East.

F-35 fighter jets fly over Israel in an undated photograph.

The F-35 has struggled with years of cost overruns and technical malfunctions; indeed, while the U.S. and NASA took about 10 years to reach the moon, 20 years after Lockheed received its first contract related to F-35 concept design the jets still suffer engine fires and sometimes provide insufficient oxygen to pilots mid-flight.

The first 19 F-35s come at a cost of $125 million each, though the per-plane price tag is supposed to drop to $80 million before the entire transaction is completed.

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The Israeli air force on 6 December declared its Lockheed Martin F-35I "Adir" combat aircraft as having achieved initial operational capability.

Lockheed Martin unveils Israel's first F-35 fighter jet in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 22, 2016.

The squadron's current nine aircrafts are among 50 F-35s that Israel agreed to purchase from the United States.

The remaining 41 jets will be delivered in multiple installments during the next several years.

The planes are being purchased as part of the military aid agreement between the USA and Israel signed at the end of the Obama administration.

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