By Yona Schnitzer
Israel’s squadron of nine F-35 fighter jets, purchased in December 2016, were declared operational on Wednesday.
The declaration makes Israel the only country outside of the United States with an operational fleet of the stealth aircraft, which is capable of evading most radar detection systems.
Over the next six months, the IAF is set to receive ten additional F-35s, dubbed Adir (mighty) as part of a major arms deal signed between Israel and the United States in the final months of the Obama administration.
“The announcement of the operational readiness of the new fleet comes at a time when the IAF is operating on multiple fronts in a Middle East that is rapidly changing and being re-shaped,” IAF commander General Amiram Norkin wrote in a letter sent to the IAF senior command.
“The operational challenges, which are becoming more complex by the day, are met with a quality aerial response. The operational readiness of the Adir adds a significant factor to the capabilities of the IAF at this time,” Norkin added.