The world’s most advanced fighter jet has seen its first combat action at the hands of Israeli pilots, an IDF chief has said.
The single-seat F-35, estimated to cost around $100 million per plane, is believed to have been involved in offensive missions over Syria, although Major General Amikam Norkin, addressing foreign air force heads meeting in Israel, refused to give details.
“We are flying the F-35 all over the Middle East and have already attacked twice on two different fronts,” he said of the stealth fighter. “You know that we just won the Eurovision with the song Toy? Well, the F-35 is not a toy.”
Nicknamed ‘Adir’ (Mighty) in Israel, the F-35 is part of the US commitment to ensuring that Israel maintains a qualitative military advantage over its Middle East neighbours, and news of its employment in battle may be meant as a signal to Iran.
The US has so far delivered nine of the 50 F-35s bound for Israel, whose commanders have called it “a game-changer,” but some military analysts have criticised it for a lack of manoeuvrability, saying it comes off second best to the much-older F-16 in a standard aerial dogfight.