The Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) first F-35A Lightning II all-weather, stealth multirole fighter has been launched at Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, US.
Called Adir, the F-35A aircraft will be delivered to the IAF as part of a contract awarded to Lockheed last year.
The IAF placed an order for 33 F-35A Adir conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) aircraft to replace its ageing F-15 and F-16 aircraft and boost its deterrence in the Middle East.
Israel Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman said: "Israel is proud to be the first country in the area to receive and operate it.
"The F-35 is the best aircraft in the world and the choice of all our military leadership at its highest level. It is clear and obvious to us and to the entire region that the new F-35, the Adir, will create real deterrence and enhance our capabilities for a long-time."
The F-35 combines advanced low observable stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment support, Lockheed said in a statement.
The aircraft has an advanced capability to defeat emerging threats, including advanced missiles and heavily-defended airspace.
Israel Aerospace Industries was responsible for production of aircraft wings, while Elbit Systems produced helmet-mounted display system for F-35 pilots.
The Elbit Systems-Cyclone produced centre fuselage composite components for IAF’s F-35.
Although a security cooperation participant, Israel is not a full-fledged member of the nine-nation joint strike fighter squadron programme.
Image: Israel’s Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman views the cockpit of the first Israeli Air Force F-35A Lightning II. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.