Stealth Fighter Nears Completion

The first USAF F-35 on its delivery flight to Eglin Air Force Base in July 2011.
The first USAF F-35 on its delivery flight to Eglin Air Force Base in July 2011.

A delegation of the Israeli Defense Ministry in the United States marked the beginning of the advanced production stage of the first Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jet, due to be delivered to Israel in June.

The head of the Ministry’s delegation to the U.S., Aharon Marmaroush, visited Lockheed Martin’s plant in Fort Worth, Texas, where he signed for receipt of the component parts on behalf of the state of Israel. It will be known in the IAF as the Adir.

“The aircraft, designated as F-35A aircraft AS-1, officially began its mate process, where the four major components of the 5th generation fighter aircraft are joined together in the Electronic Mate and Assembly Station to form the aircraft’s structure. AS-1 will continue its assembly here and is expected to roll out of the factory in June and be delivered to the Israeli Air Force (IAF) later this year,” Lockheed Martin said.

“This is a historic day for the Defense Ministry and the state of Israel,” Marmaroush said. “F-35 jets from the advanced fifth generation, purchased by the Defense Ministry, will march the air force onward and upwards, and will significantly improve its abilities to protect the state of Israel from a wide range of threats,” he said.

Jeff Babione, head of the F-35 program at Lockheed Martin, said the plane would upgrade Israel’s tactical and strategic capabilities, and strengthen relations between the company and the IAF, Defense Ministry, and Israeli defense industries for many decades to come.

Israel has purchased 33 F-35A fighters jets at an average cost of 110 million dollars per aircraft, delivery to Israel scheduled for completion by 2021.

Israel signed its first contract for 19 jets in 2010, and a second contract for the acquisition of 14 jets in 2014, with an option of buying another 17 in the future.