Israeli F-35s already at war, by Manlio Dinucci

Israeli F-35s already at war, by Manlio Dinucci

As reported yesterday, the Israeli Air Force F-35 stealth aircraft have had their baptism of fire taking part in air strike in the Middle East (Syria and another unspecified "front") lately.

Israel was not one of the original nine partner nations that helped to fund the F-35s development but is among the three foreign military sales (FMS) customers for the platform - and is now the first nation ever to use the F-35 in combat operations.

This image showing an Israeli F-35 flying above Beirut was circulating on social media after being shown in a presentation by Israeli Air Force chief Amikam Norkin.

Moreover, the F-35 appears to be flying off Lebanon, accompanied by another aircraft (the photo ship), possibly another F-35 or a completely different type - even a G550 like those that continuously fly off Lebanon and Syria and are trackable by means of their Mode-S transponders. "We are the first in the world to carry out operational attacks with the F-35", Norkin said. Currently, Lockheed and Air Force officials are amid discussion on how to reduce these operational costs, seeing as Lockheed Martin is also contracted to provide the vast majority of support for the platform, despite offering very little transparency on their justification for the exorbitant costs.

Israeli F-35s already at war, by Manlio Dinucci
Israeli F-35s already at war, by Manlio Dinucci

General Norkin's announcement was therefore particularly appreciated by Lockheed Martin's Chief Executive Officer, Marillyn Hewson, one of the speakers at the conference on "aerial superiority". Based on the Disengagement Agreement in 1974, Israel withdrew from part of it.

Israel's military industry also participates in the F-35 programme.

The decision to reveal both the image and the operational use of the F-35, including in Syria, was seen by many defense analysts as a subtle threat to Israel's nemesis Iran, with which it is fighting an ongoing, mostly quiet war in Syria.

The fifth-generation fighter jet has been lauded as a "game-changer" by the Israeli military, not only for its offensive and stealth capabilities, but for its ability to connect its systems with other aircraft and form an information-sharing network. "The most painful response you can give the Iranians is to recognise Israel's Golan sovereignty - with an American statement, a presidential proclamation, enshrined (in law)", he said. The air force is expected to receive a total of 50 planes to make two full squadrons by 2024.

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