Air Force Chief Reveals Israel First Country to Make Operational Use of F-35 Stealth Jets
Written by Yona Schnitzer/TPS on May 22, 2018
Israel has used the F-35 stealth fighter jet to attack “on different fronts, making it the first air force in the world to make operational use of the jets, Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin told a gathering of some 20 air force commanders from around the world in Herzliya Tuesday morning.
“Israel’s ‘Adir’ planes are already operational and are used in operational missions,” Norkin said at the conference marking 70 years to the Israel Air Force attended by commanders from the United States, Italy, Austria, Bulgaria, Belgium, Germany, Canada, and Britain, among others.
Adir is Israeli designation for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jets. Israel currently has one operational squadron of F-35I Adir jets and has signed contracts that will take the number up to 50 over the next three years. It received its first jets in 2016.
Norkin revealed that the IDF has already used the F-35 at least twice to carry out attack missions, and that it is the first military to ever make operational use of the stealth bomber.
“I can tell you that we fly the F-35 over the entire Middle East, and that it has become a staple in our operational capabilities,” Norkin said. “We were the first to carry out operational missions [with the F-35], and we have already attacked in different fronts,” he added, before displaying a picture of the Adir over the Lebanese capital Beirut.
Norkin also spoke about the exchange between Israel, Iran and Syria on May 10th, when Israel attacked Iranian sites in Syria in response to a barrage of rockets fired at northern Israel. Norkin contradicted the original reports that Iran fired 20 missiles at Israel, asserting that the actual figure was 32.
He also revealed that Syrian air defense batteries had fired some 100 missiles at Israeli jets participating in the raids.
“We attacked over 20 Iranian targets in Syria. Unfortunately, the Syrian aerial defense systems fired off more than 100 anti-plane missiles at our aircrafts,” Norkin said. “In response, we destroyed their systems.”