After their departure from Italy was delayed, Israel’s first two F-35 fighter jets arrived in southern Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter participated in the celebratory welcoming ceremony.
The first two F-35 fighter jets that Israel bought from the US have landed at an airbase in southern Israel. Their departure today (Monday) from Italy was delayed due to the local weather conditions. The aircraft were supposed to arrive by this afternoon but only took off around 4:00 PM (Israeli time).
During the ceremony, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “I want to thank in the name of the nation of Israel the US Congress, President Obama and the American people. Israel is the most stable and the best ally of the US. Our military strength is receiving a significant boost of power.”
One of the F-35 fighter jets in Israel Photo Credit: Channel 2 News
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said this morning: “Today, we will receive the new F-35 ‘Mighty One’ jets at the Nevitim Air Force Base that will join our ranks and add an important element in securing our air force superiority in the region.” The minister added, “If the air force is strong, then the IDF is strong and when the IDF is strong, the State of Israel and the nation are strong.”
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“The IDF and Israel’s far reach is becoming longer, more secretive and more effective,” said Minister of Construction Yoav Galant. “In the past, the IAF operated in far places and it is ready for such operations in order to defend and protect Israel’s citizens against strategically far threats as well as nearby tactical threats.”
The new F-35 jets, which are called the “Mighty One” within Israel, will bring to the Israeli Air Force the most advanced stealth technology. Major Elijah “Animal” Supper, one of the American pilots bringing the F-35 to Israel, spoke on Thursday about the aircraft’s arrival. “It’s a historic moment for you, the world and specifically for the region receiving this jet,” he said.
As previously reported by JOL, 50 F-35 jets in total are set to arrive in Israel by 2021, a revolutionary advancement in Israel’s forces. The first jets to arrive are the American models without the Israeli system technologies installed, which will only be integrated in four years.