On December 6, the Israeli Air Force officially declared its fleet of F-35I warplanes operational.
According to Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, the warplanes will give Israel new capabilities to confront the “constantly evolving and complex challenges” in the region.
The F-35s are operated by the Golden Eagle Squadron, based in the Nevatim Air Base in central Israel.
“The announcement of the operationalization of the ‘Adir’ [F-35I] aircraft comes at a time in which the IAF is operating on a large scale on a number of fronts in a dynamic Middle East,” he said.
Currently, Israel has nine F-35I warplanes. It will receive 41 more warplanes from the US over the coming years.
Meanwhile, reports appeared that a F-35 warplane deployed in Japan lost part of its fuselage, during a “routine training mission”. The incident took place near Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, on November 30.
The lost panel is about 30*60 centimeters. The fact was noticed by the F-35’s wingman as the aircraft was in the process of landing.
— さいとぅーん (@satwoon_msdf174) 30 November 2017
According to reports, the panel was broken during the flight. Most likely, the F-35 was thoroughly inspected ahead of the takeoff.