Israel Air Force Head: Israel First Country to Carry out Airstrikes With F-35

Two Israeli F-35 “Adir” jets fly in formation after receiving fuel from a Tennessee Air National Guard KC-135 on Dec., 6, 2016. Credit: U.S. Air Force/1st Lt. Erik D. Anthony.
Israel is the first country to carry out airstrikes with the F-35 stealth fighter jet, the commander of the Israel Air Force told his counterparts from 20 counties from around the world.

“We are flying the F-35 over the entire Middle East and that it has become part of our operational capability,” Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said Tuesday. “We were the first in the world to attack with the F-35. The Israeli Air Force has twice carried out strikes with the F-35, on two different fronts,” he also said.

Israel was the first country outside the United States to acquire the F-35. Only a limited number of American allies have been allowed to purchase the jet, which Washington has asserted will continue to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge.

Israel currently has about eight of the planes. A total of 50 have been ordered by Israel, which should have them all by 2024. They are to be fitted with advanced Israeli weapons systems.

Norkin on Tuesday addressed the commanders of allied countries air forces from around the world at the start of a three-day conference held to mark the 70th anniversary of Israel’s Air Force.

He also told the attendees that Iranian forces in Syria had fired some 32 rockets at Israeli military bases on the Golan Heights, more than the 20 originally reported by the IDF. In addition, Syrian air defenses fired over 100 surface-to-air missiles at the Israeli fighter jets during Israel’s retaliatory attacks.

“The Iranians fired 32 rockets, we intercepted four. The rest landed outside Israeli territory,” he said.

He said that Israel has had an 85 percent success rate in intercepting hundreds of missiles fired from the north and south with its three-layered missile defense system: the Arrow long-range system; David’s Sling medium-range system; and the Iron Dome short-range system.