Israel receives its first F-35 stealth fighter

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman attend a ceremony on Wednesday in Dallas marking the development of US defense firm Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet, which Israel is purchasing.

Israel has so far ordered a total of 33 F-35s and will be the only country in the Middle East to have the jet, which the US military is just beginning to use after years of delays and technical problems.

The jets have a range of 1,300 miles and can carry up to 8,200 kg of weapons.

Liberman said during the ceremony that the F-35 would greatly improve “our operational capabilities, for a long time.”

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“The State of Israel is proud to be the first in our region to receive and operate the plane,” Liberman added.

The newly appointed defense minister hailed the fighter plane as “the most advanced in the world, and is the best selection by defense chiefs for safeguarding Israel’s aerial superiority.”

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Liberman on Tuesday said that a deal has nearly been struck over the US’s military aid package to Israel.

“We need a good agreement within an appropriate amount of time and I see no contradiction between the two. I believe we can reach an agreement in November,” Lieberman said.

The defense minister’s comments came the day after a meeting with US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in Washington, Lieberman’s first visit to the US capital since being sworn in to his new role on May 30.

A Pentagon statement issued following the meeting said Carter and Liberman had “reaffirmed the strength of the US-Israeli defense relationship and the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.”

The pair discussed “regional security challenges in the Middle East and areas of mutual defense cooperation,” the Pentagon said.

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