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.
Israel celebrated being the first country outside the United States to receive the F-35 - although conflicting reports claim Italy or the U.K. in fact was. 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.
In mid-March the United States Marine Corps conducted the first F-35B fighter jet vertical-landing drill on an amphibious ship. Israel's F-35I has stealth technology, but does not make vertical landings.
At the time, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Brad Cooper said, "This is a historic deployment; for the first time we take a Marine stealth fighter, the F-35B, and we pair it with a navy amphibious ship, and together this represents what I believe is the most significant leap in war-fighting capability of our lifetime."
Cooper continued, "F-35B is the most capable combat aircraft in the world, and you add on top of that navy guided missile destroyers. You can see that you have a force that brings a powerful punch."
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.
The U.S. Department of Defense resumed accepting F-35 jet deliveries from Lockheed Martin Corp in early May after reaching an agreement on covering the costs to fix a production error, the Pentagon told Reuters on Monday.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The cost of the fix was $119 million, people familiar with the situation had previously told Reuters.
The Pentagon had stopped accepting the jets on March 29, the Pentagon's F-35 Joint Program office told Reuters in a statement. The dispute was over responsibility for paying to fix corrosion related to an error discovered in the second half of 2017.
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