Lockheed Martin will unveil its first F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter today at Fort Worth in Texas and officially deliver it, at a festive rollout ceremony, to Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman and Israel Air Force (IAF) chief of staff Brigadier General Tal Kelman. The F-35 Lightning II is known as the "Adir" in Hebrew, meaning mighty, and its delivery marks the start of a new era for the IAF and IDF.
Israel has to date procured 33 F-35s and talks are underway for the purchase of more, despite criticism in Israel about faults in the fifth generation, which has been developed and produced since 2000. Nevertheless, the F-35 has stealth abilities and the most advanced avionic systems and Israel's defense establishment sees the fighter jet as Israel's plane of the future, insisting that faults are part of the teething problems of any new aircraft.
Kelman revealed that Israel's first two F-35s will be flown to Israel by US pilots on December 12 2016. The following day, Israeli pilots will fly the aircraft in Israel's skies. More aircraft will follow after Israeli pilots undergo training in the US.
Kelman also said that in addition to the 33 F-35s already procured, he had asked IDF Chief of Staff Lt. General Gadi Eizenkot for the purchase of 17 more, making a total of 50, and that the matter would soon be brought to the cabinet for approval.
He added that the 33 aircraft already procured by Israel would all be delivered by 2021.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 22, 2016
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2016