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Two more F-35s land in Israel, bringing number in arsenal to 16

Two more F-35 fighter jets landed in Israel today, bringing the number of fifth-generation stealth aircraft that the military acknowledges having in its arsenal up to 16.

The first two F-35 jets landed in Israel in December 2016. Approximately a year later, the stealth fighter — known in Israel as the Adir — was declared operational, and several months later the head of the air force revealed that the aircraft had conducted bombing raids, making Israel the first country to acknowledge using the planes operationally.

“The capabilities of the Adir Squadron adds another tier to the operational and strategic abilities of the air force, which ensures the air force’s superiority in all its missions, namely the protection and safety of the State of Israel’s skies,” the IDF says.

Israel has agreed to purchase at least 50 F-35 fighter jets from the US defense contractor Lockheed Martin. They will be delivered in batches of twos and threes over the next few years. Israel is the second country after the United States to receive the F-35 from Lockheed Martin and one of the few to be allowed to modify the state-of-the-art aircraft.

“The ongoing procurement of the Adir is another expression of the long-term military cooperation between Israel and the US, which continues to produce exceptional results in the process of strengthening and streamlining [the F-35],” the army says in a statement.

— Judah Ari Gross

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