Israeli Air Force gets ‘game-changing’ F-35 fighter planes

The arrival of the F-35 fighter planes in Israel is described by a senior IAF official as a game-changing development.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) on Monday evening received its first two 17 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F-35 stealth jets from the US.

The aircraft were scheduled to be delivered earlier in the day, but the process was delayed due to inclement weather.

The planes, after leaving Italy on the final leg of the journey, were received at the Nevatim airbase in the Negev at a special ceremony attended by thousands, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

Israel’s Enemies ‘Exposed and Vulnerable’

“The Adir aircraft redefines Israel’s abilities of deterrence,” President Reuven Rivlin stated. “It re-defines the IDF’s long arm. It redefines the realm of our ability to operate. Right now all of our many enemies know that they are exposed and vulnerable and that they should not harm Israel. The landing of the Adir completed Israel’s long effort that is to build its military power for generations to come looking for the long-term. Over the years, the State of Israel and the Israel Air Force insisted on being one of the best and most advanced forces in the world based on the simple understanding that one cannot be first among equals in this region. A significant, deep, and qualitative strategic gap needs to be created in comparison to the countries that desire our destruction and against the countries that are arming themselves at this very moment and see Israel as their benchmark. From today on, this important task will be placed on the shoulders of the Adir – a task that will have to be carried out in the foreseeable future.”

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Netanyahu: ‘Only Strength Brings Peace’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarked: “Today, our military strength is bolstered with this significant addition. The Adir pilots and the Adir aircraft will be capable of operating in every arena – whether it be from close or from afar. I also want to say this very clearly: Anyone who thinks of attacking us will be attacked. Anyone who thinks to destroy us places themselves in existential danger. This is a prerequisite for ensuring our future. History teaches us a simple lesson: Weak nations do not survive. They invite themselves to attacks and are prone to collapse. The weak are trampled upon and the strong are respected. Only strength creates deterrence; only strength inspires respect; only strength produces alliances – and only strength brings peace. We will continue to bolster our security and build up our forces.”

Aerial Power More ‘Lethal, Combined and Relevant’

Air Force Commander Major General Amir Eshel: “Tonight begins a fascinating encounter between a man and the machine, between our excellent pilots and the maintenance teams, to the technological progress in the field of aviation. This encounter is expected to bring new ideas and great abilities. The aircraft will become more and more blue and white, both operational and by its technological systems. Every Adir will be a powerful offensive machine, information and control center and will operate in the most advanced patterns in a completely different way from what is known. In 2017 the aircraft will be operational, and we will operate it in a way that will exceed the expectations of its planners. The Adir will become an accelerator for the IAF in its whole. We intend to leverage the systematical abilities to new peaks, both in offense and defense. The aerial power will become more lethal, combined and relevant.”

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The new arrivals are the first of 50 such planes scheduled to arrive in Israel over the  coming years. Known as the Adir (mighty) in Israel, the F-35 is the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program, estimated to cost nearly $400 billion. Each plane costs an average of $110 million.

The IAF intends to make the jets operational within a year.

A senior Israeli air force official described the arrival of the F-35 as a game-changing development that will give Israel a “strong and effective tool” in dealing with challenges across the region.

By: World Israel News Staff