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Israel Operationalizes First Set of F-35 Fighter Jets

08 December 2017

Israel' military on Wednesday declared its newly acquired F-35 stealth fighters operational, making it the first country outside of the United States to put the ultra hi-tech jets into service.

A year after their arrival, the first nine F-35s delivered from the US have now been fully integrated into the Israeli Air Force. "The operational readiness of the Adir adds a significant factor to the capabilities of the IAF at this time", Norkin added. 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 reception process of the Adir was performed by specially trained dedicated crews, who received nine aircrafts over the past year", a military spokesperson said in a statement.

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Israel has agreed to purchase 50 of the F-35 jets from the USA and was the first foreign country permitted to acquire the planes, at a cost of roughly $100 million each.

41 more F-35s will land in Israel in the coming years, and Israel is still considering whether to buy a third squadron of the fighters, thereby increasing its total order to 75 planes.

An agreement between Israel and the U.S. written into the USA 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".

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However, the jet has been criticized in the U.S. Congress over its costs and alleged engineering flaws.

Speaking in November, Shoshana Bryen, director at the Jewish Policy Center in Washington, said that while Israel and the UAE "are not allies, not even friends... if anyone thinks that the UAE will use this airplane to attack Israel, he or she is not living in reality".

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Israel Operationalizes First Set of F-35 Fighter Jets