Lockheed Martin has officially commenced the assembling process of the first F-35 stealth fifth-generation joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft being manufactured for the Israel Air Force (IAF).
Designated as AS-1 or Adir, the F-35A aircraft will have its four major components joined together in the electronic mate and assembly station to form the aircraft’s structure.
Lockheed Martin F-35 programme manager Jeff Babione said: "Today marks a new beginning for tactical aviation for Israel.
"Lockheed Martin is proud of our long and storied relationship with Israel’s armed forces. The F-35A Adir strengthens our solid relationship with the IAF and ensures that the Israeli aerospace industry will remain strong for decades to come."
The fifth-generation fighter is scheduled to be delivered to the IAF later this year.
Israel Ministry of Defense Mission New York director Aharon Marmarosh said: "These fifth-generation aircraft will greatly enhance the IAF’s ability to defend the State of Israel from the serious threats we face."
Israel had placed a contract for the purchase of 33 F-35A Adir conventional take off and landing (CTOL) aircraft last year to replace its aging F-15 and F-16 aircraft and boost its deterrence in the Middle East.
Israel, although a security cooperation participant, is not a full-fledged member of the nine-nation joint strike fighter squadron programme.
Image: The F-35A aircraft, AS-1 or Adir, is scheduled to be delivered to the Israeli Air Force (IAF) later this year. Photo: ©2016 Lockheed Martin Corporation.