The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has confirmed that its F-35 Lightning II combat aircraft variant, known as Adir (F-35I), was used to conduct operational missions in the Middle East for the first time.
The country has conducted the first operational F-35 strike in the world and used the aircraft to attack two targets in the Middle East.
IAF commander major general Amikam Norkin said: “We performed the F-35’s first ever operational strike. The IAF is a pioneer and a world leader in operating air power.”
Norkin further said that the IAF’s F-35I multirole fighter jets are already in operation with the force and are carrying out different combat missions.
Although the US Air Force was the first military service in the world to declare its variant of the F-35 jet ready for combat in August 2016, Israel is the first nation to make the combat debut for the Lockheed Martin-built aircraft, CNN cited from a report by The Jerusalem Post.
In October 2010, Israel signed a letter of agreement to become the first country to select the fifth-generation advanced fighter jet through the US Government’s foreign military sales process.
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The F-35I Adir was declared operational with the IAF in December following the completion of an initial operational capability inspection.
On 22 June 2016, the airforce received the first F-35A Adir at the F-35 manufacturing facility at Fort Worth, Texas, US.
With the decommissioning of the IAF’s existing fleet of ageing F-15s and F-16s, the F-35 is expected to continue ensuring the country’s global competitiveness.