Israel is the first country in the world to carry out an "operational attack" with the F-35 stealth fighter, Israel’s air force commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said on Tuesday.
"The F-35 squadron has become an operational squadron. We are flying the F-35 all over the Middle East – we might be the first to attack with F-35 in the Middle East," he said.
“The Adir planes are already operational and flying in operational missions. We are the first in the world to use the F-35 in operational activity”
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) May 22, 2018
Norkin presented images of the F-35 over Beirut, Lebanon and said that the stealth fighter did not participate in the last strike in Syria but did in two previous ones.
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Norkin also said that Iran fired 32 rockets at Israel during the flare-up across the Syrian border earlier this month. According to Norkin, four rockets were intercepted by Israel, and the rest landed outside of Israeli territory. Speaking at a Herzliya conference, Norkin added that more than 100 surface-to-air missiles were fired at Israeli jets over Syria.
This photo, provided by the government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media, shows missiles rising into the sky as Israeli missiles hit air defense position in Damascus, May 10, 2018.Uncredited/AP
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After months of tensions, Israel and Iran directly locked horns in Syria on May 11. At the time, Israel said Iranian forces fired 20 rockets at Israel Defense Forces positions in the Golan Heights. Four of the rockets aimed toward Israel were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system while the remaining rockets exploded on Syrian territory, the military said.
Manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp, the F-35 is also known as the Joint Strike Fighter and, in Israel, by its Hebrew name "Adir" (Mighty).
Israel was the first country outside the United States to acquire the F-35.
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.
>> Iran’s ‘first-ever’ attack on Israel and Israel’s most extensive Syria strike in decades | Explained
The Iranian attack prompted the most extensive Israeli strike on Syria in decades; overnight, Israel openly attacked dozens of Iranian military and logistics targets in Syria.
The Israeli military accused the Revolutionary Guards’ Al Quds force and its commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, of launching the attack at the Israeli Golan Heights. The attacks was most likely in retaliation for previous attacks on attributed to Israel on Iranian bases and positions in Syria.
After the attack, Israel hit dozens of Iranian targets in Syria: Israel said its targets included weapons storage, logistics sites and intelligence centers used by elite Iranian forces in Syria. Twenty-three militants were killed in the attack, according to the Syrian observatory.
Israel said none of its warplanes were hit. Israel said it attacked five Syrian antiaircraft batteries and reportedly destroyed all of them after coming under heavy fire.
According to Haaretz’s senior military analyst, the attack dealt a severe blow to embattled Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s antiaircraft forces. The Israel Air Force said five of the batteries attacked belonged to the Syrian army and were Russian-built models: SA-22, SA-2, SA-5 and SA-17.