The F-35 stealth fighter made its combat debut in Syria

Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II (Photo Courtesy Lockheed Martin)

After more than two decades of development and testing, the Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has made its combat debut in Syria. IAF deployment of F-35 and operational engagement of F-35 marks a significant moment given the $1.5 trillion dollars Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program’s checkered past.

The Israeli Air Force announced Tuesday on Twitter that the F-35I “Adir” –an Israeli variant of F-35 Lightning II struck designated target in Syria. The F-35I “Adir” is operational since 2017 at Nevatim Air Base

Israeli Air Force F-35I (Source CNN)

“The Adir planes are already operational and flying in operational missions. We are the first in the world to use the F-35 in operational activity” — IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) May 22, 2018. Israeli Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said the stealth fifth-generation aircraft was used to strike two different targets in the Middle East, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Over the past five decades, Israel has sought to maintain its superiority in the skies over the Middle East — perceiving many threats in its neighbourhood, including the Syrian conflict and missile attacks from Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militant group based in Lebanon.
The deployment of Russian-made S-300 and S-400 surface-to-air missile prompted Israeli Air Force to use 5th generation combat aircraft to maintain air superiority over adversary surface-to-air missile system.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (Source Lockheed Martin)

The F-35 fighter jet is touted as the future of military aviation; a lethal and versatile aircraft that combines stealth capabilities, supersonic speed, extreme agility and state-of-the-art sensor fusion technology, according to Lockheed Martin, the plane’s primary contractor.
Israel’s version of the multi-purpose warplane called the F-35I has Israeli technology built into the plane at the factory, including an Israeli-developed command, control, communications, computer and intelligence (C4I) system.

Nicknamed the “Mighty One” by the Israeli press, the F-35 is part of a $38 billion Memorandum of Understanding between Israel and the US covering a 10-year period beginning in 2019. The Israeli Air Force has ordered 50 F-35s from the US — each with a price tag of more than $100 million.


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