FORT WORTH, Texas, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin reports it has begun the process of joining four major components of the structure an F-35 Lightning II aircraft for Israel.
The plane is the first being built for Israel and is expected to roll out of Lockheed's assembly hall in June.
"Today [Sunday] marks a new beginning for tactical aviation for Israel," said Jeff Babione, Lockheed Martin F-35 program manager. "Lockheed Martin is proud of our long and storied relationship with Israel's armed forces. The F-35A Adir strengthens our solid relationship with the IAF and ensures that the Israeli aerospace industry will remain strong for decades to come."
Adir is the Israeli Air Force name for the 33 F-35s it is acquiring through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program. The Israeli F-35s will be the A variant, the conventional takeoff and landing model.
A number of Israeli companies provide components and systems to Lockheed for F-35 aircraft. Israel Aerospace Industries produces wings, Elbit Systems Ltd. works on the Generation III helmet-mounted display system and the F-35 center fuselage composite components.