Two Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters will arrive in Israel in December 2016, making the Israeli Air Force (IAF) the first outside of the United States to receive the fifth-generation combat aircraft, a senior Lockheed Martin official said on 15 April.

The two jets are among 33 F-35s that Israel currently has on order. The defence establishment is keen to acquire another 17 in the coming years to form two full squadrons.

Five pilots and a squadron commander from Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel have been selected to become the country’s first F-35 pilots and instructors, IAF sources added, describing them as the “core” of the first squadron. […]