The Israel Air Force declared its F-35 fleet operationally capable this week.
The declaration marks the completion of an intensive integration and training effort conducted by the IAF with nine assigned F-35I “Adir” (“mighty one” in Hebrew) aircraft at Nevatim AFB, Israel.
The Israeli Air Force also say that the IOC declaration also ‘verifies the IAF possesses the ability to not only operate the IAF fleet in performance of IAF missions, but also to train IAF pilots and maintainers, and support operations through a robust logistics footprint and support system’.
“In October 2010, Israel signed a letter of agreement through the United States government’s Foreign Military Sales process to become the first country to select the F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing variant and today they are the first nation outside the United States to declare initial operational capability,” said Vice Admiral Mat Winter, Programme Executive Officer.
“The F-35 Adir strengthens our solid relationship with the Government of Israel and the Israeli Air Force. The government and industry team will continue to deliver on our commitments and congratulate the IAF on achieving this significant milestone.”
“The entire F-35 team congratulates the Israeli Defense Forces on achieving this critical milestone,” said Jeff Babione, Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President and General Manager for the F-35 program. “We thank the people of Israel for placing their confidence in the F-35 to preserve and strengthen Israel’s defense for decades to come.”
Lockheed Martin say that Israel’s purchasing intention is 50 F-35As and their industrial contribution to the program includes Israel Aerospace Industries wing production; Elbit Systems Ltd. work on the Generation III helmet-mounted display system, which all pilots fleet-wide will wear; and Elbit Systems-Cyclone centre fuselage composite components production.