U.S. Defense Chief Ashton Carter to Visit Israel Next Week

Carter will meet Defense Minister Lieberman and participate in a ceremony marking the delivery of the first two F-35 stealth fighter jets from the U.S.

US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter speaks in Stuttgart, Germany, on May 4, 2016 after a meeting of the coalition fighting ISIS.
Daniel Roland/AFP

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will be in Israel next week. The visit will include his participation in a ceremony where the Israel Air Force will formally take possession of the first two American F-35 stealth fighter jets.

The ceremony will take place at the Nevatim air base in the Negev, and will be attended by several thousand people.

During his visit, the defense secretary is expected to meet with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and the two will hold a joint news conference. 

Carter's visit comes just over a month prior to the end of his term as defense secretary, as the Obama administration leaves office on January 20. The U.S. defense chief will be coming to Israel after visits to India, Japan and the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain and will head to Italy and Britain from Israel. A Pentagon statement highlighted the security cooperation that exists between Israel and the United States.

An F-35 fighter jet.

Israel's first two F-35 stealth jet fighters will land at Nevatim Air Force Base near Be’er Sheva on Monday of next week. Israel Air Force pilots will take the controls the following day for the first overflight of Israel by the state-of-the-art plane, already nicknamed the Adir (Hebrew for mighty or glorious). Considered to be the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft, the two planes will be flown to Israel by American pilots who participated in the training of Israeli pilots and crews in the United States.

Last month, Israel's inner security cabinet decided unanimously to purchase 17 additional F-35 stealth fighter jets from the United States. The Prime Minister's Bureau said the new purchase will ultimately bring the complement of the air force's F-35s to 50.