FORT WORTH, Texas, June 23 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin has rolled out its first F-35 Lightning II fighter for the Israeli air force.
The rollout at the company's production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, was conducted during a ceremony attended by more than 400 guests, including Israeli government and military officials.
"Israel is proud to be the first country in the area to receive and operate it," said Avigdor Liberman, Israel's Minister of Defense. "The F-35 is the best aircraft in the world and the choice of all our military leadership at its highest level. It is clear and obvious to us and to the entire region that the new F-35, the Adir, will create real deterrence and enhance our capabilities for a long time."
Israel is buying 33 F-35s, in the conventional takeoff and landing configuration, through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program. It has named the aircraft the Adir, which in Hebrew means Mighty One.
Israel also is a contributor to Lockheed's production of the fighter -- Israel Aerospace Industries produces wings for the plane, Elbit Systems works on the Generation III helmet-mounted display system to be used by F-35 pilots, and Elbit Systems-Cyclone produces F-35 center fuselage composite components.
"We're honored to partner with Israel and help strengthen the deep and lasting partnership between our two nations," said Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin chairman, president and chief executive officer said at the ceremony Wednesday. "The F-35 will help Israel remain a beacon of strength and stability in the region and support a safe and secure homeland for generations to come."
The F-35A rolled out will be delivered to Israel at the end of the year.