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Israel's F-35 jets operational, herald 'new era' amid regional turmoil

Israel's F-35 jets operational, herald 'new era' amid regional turmoil

The fifth-generation fighter jet has been lauded as a "game-changer" by the Israeli military, not only for its offensive and stealth capabilities, but for its ability to connect its systems with other aircraft and form an information-sharing network.

Today, the "Adir" F-35 aircraft have completed the period of absorption and training for operational use in the air force. The F-35 is the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program, estimated to cost almost $400 billion.

"The announcement of the operational fitness of the squadron is being made at a time when the air force is operating on a large scale on several fronts in a Middle East that is constantly changing and being reshaped", Israel Air Force commander Major General Amikam Norkin wrote in a special letter to air force soldiers. A single plane was priced at $100-110 million.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) announced on Wednesday that its fleet of F-35 stealth fighter jets is now field-ready.

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Israel's F-35, called Adir, will be a significant addition to maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge in the Middle East region with its advanced capability to defeat emerging threats, including advanced missiles and heavily defended airspace, said manufacturer Lockheed-Martin. The operational challenge that becomes complex every day - receives a high-quality, professional air response. The declaration followed an inspection performed on five of the unit's jets, after which the service says "the aircraft was found fit for operational activity". The IAF now has nine aircraft at its disposal, five of which were chosen for the inspection. This makes the IAF the second air force in the world, after the United States, to operate the F-35.

Israel has agreed to purchase 50 of the F-35 jets from the USA and was the first foreign country permitted to acquire the planes, at a cost of roughly $100 million each.

Throughout 2018, the "Golden Eagle" Squadron is expected to integrate six more fighters, while the next aircraft are scheduled to land in Israel early in the summer.

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