May 22, 2018 / 6:57 AM / 3 months ago

Israel says it is the first country to use U.S.-made F-35 in combat

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel is the first country to have used the U.S.-made F-35 stealth fighter in combat, the Israeli air force chief said on Tuesday in remarks carried by the military’s official Twitter account.

Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea during an aerial show as part of the celebrations for Israel's Independence Day marking the 70th anniversary of the creation of the state, in Tel Aviv, Israel April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/Files

Local media further quoted Major-General Amikam Norkin as saying in a speech to the chiefs of 20 foreign air forces convening in Israel: “We are flying the F-35 all over the Middle East and have already attacked twice on two different fronts”.

Norkin also displayed a photograph of an Israeli F-35 overflying Beirut, local media said.

Manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp, the F-35 is also known as the Joint Strike Fighter and, in Israel, by its Hebrew name “Adir” (Mighty).

Israel was the first country outside the United States to acquire the F-35. In December 2016, it received the first two planes out of an order of 50. According to Israeli media, at least nine have been delivered so far.

Israel says it has carried out scores of strikes in Syria against suspected Iranian emplacements or arms transfers to Hezbollah guerrillas in neighbouring Lebanon.

Its air forces is also widely believed to have operated over against Islamist militants in the Egyptian Sinai and Hamas arms smugglers in Sudan.

Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Raissa Kasolowsky

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